Links 5/28/13

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Fire breaks out aboard Royal Caribbean cruise ship Associated Press (Lambert). Assume you had a better weekend than THAT. Plus quite the spate of cruise disasters.

Company develops technology to mass-produce ‘spider silk’ fabric Ashai Shinbum (YY)

Female Professionals of 1970s Face Higher Risk of Breast Cancer Pacific Standard (Lance N)

US entering Asian century with eyes closed Bangkok Post

Pedestrian fakes hilariously bad hit, foiled by Russian dash cam autoblog (YY). An illustration of why they’ve become popular.

Kafka, meet Orwell: peek behind the scenes of the modern surveillance state BoingBoing (Jeremy B)

Spy on your neighbours, says former MI5 head Stella Rimington Telegraph

EU trade push against Chinese solar panels seriously weakened Financial Times

The Naxalite Attacks at Sukma: Peals of Spring Thunder Counterpunch (Carol B)

Hezbollah Makes Historic Gamble by Joining Syrian War New York Times

From Crisis to Crisis in Baghdad Counterpunch (Carol B)

Obama’s terrorism speech: seeing what you want to see Glenn Greenwald

Veterans Suicide Memorial Unveiled In Nation’s Capitol Duffelblog (AM). Lambert warns: “Military version of The Onion.”

ObamaCare Clusterfuck: If you’re over 55 and forced into Medicaid, Medicaid is a collateral loan, and a death tax on your estate Corrente

Wall Street Lobbyists Literally Writing Bills In Congress DSWright, Firedoglake (Carol B). Not news per se, but becoming more blatant

States Raise College Budgets After Years of Deep Cuts Wall Street Journal

Tuition Protesters Are Still in Top Office at Cooper Union New York Times. Lambert flags last para.

Crime Fighting Trees Transform Philly NBC 10 Philadelphia (Carol B)

Neel Kashkari may run for governor of California San Francisco Chronicle Aieee! David Fiderer: “He must think that Californians feel graeteful for all that he did fir struggling homeowners.” ”

Teaching Our Children to Fear Dissenters: South Dakota Schools Edition Firedoglake (Chuck L)

High home ownership bad for employment? MacroBusiness

Reinhart & Rogoff is still ongoing, meme status inevitable FT Alphaville

Disaster porn and elite panic: the militarized lie of savage disaster aftermath BoingBoingm (Jeremy B). Background on elite panic.

Rebecca Solnit, The Earthquake Kit Tom Engelhardt (Jeremy B)

I Want to Believe The New Inquiry (MontanaMaven). Today’s must read.

Antidote du jour:


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  1. Skeptic

    Cruise Ships, Gus Boulis, Katrina and Massive Crime Wave

    Some may remember the murder of Cruise Ship Owner Gus Boulis in Fort Lauderdale back in 2001. He had connections to Jack Abramoff, DC Bagman Extraordinaire. Abramoff was convicted of fraud in connection with a cruise ship line purchase involving Boulis.

    Some may also remember that Katrina spawned a controversial $236 million dollar deal to house Katrina victims. Every disaster brings profitable opportunity, particularly if one is well connected to lubricate the relief effort.

    It should be noted also that many of these cruise ships simply go from one casino destination to another casino destination. Casinos are not normally owned by dogooders.

    So there is a lot of smoke rising from the cruise ship industry indicating it just may be one facet of the Massive Crime Wave now underway and accelerating.

    As for passenger safety………………………….badabing?

  2. dearieme

    Q: What’s even more absurd than the American Healthcare “system”?

    A: The Obamacare Law.

    I wouldn’t be so rude as to recommend to Americans what they should do about healthcare, but I will go as far as to suggest that Obamacare ain’t it.

  3. TIm Graham

    “I Want to Believe” is just another pathetic rationalization enabling dodos to do nothing about a society that is slowly falling apart.

    1. YankeeFrank

      Did you read the whole thing? It was not an argument in favor of conspiracy theory. On the contrary, it was a short exegesis of the function of the literature of conspiracy theory for the present day, and an answer to it in the form of class consciousness and class power. The piece has as its premise that there is no master or higher intelligence directing the global capitalist system and that therefore we are in control, if we only take that control. I found it a fun read and truthful.

      1. Glenn Condell

        ‘The piece has as its premise that there is no master or higher intelligence directing the global capitalist system and that therefore we are in control, if we only take that control’

        That ‘therefore’ is carrying far too much weight of assumption IMO. We don’t need secret government by carefully placed Bilderbergers not to be in control. Or – our lack of agency does not have to be attributable to secret cabals. We labour under networks of oppression shaped by millions of actors pursuing their interests over decades. Even the fact that some of those millions are us does not mean that we are or indeed can be ‘in control’.

    2. efschumacher

      Life tends towards diversity: DNA doesn’t just replicate, it encodes all variations and lets the successful ones replicate. Treating the global “proletariat” as a “class” misses that while some of their interests may be aligned, most of their interests are apart, and diverging. Getting 99% to agree on a prudent course of action in a persistent way will not happen.

      Stuff gets done by zealous, committed, persistent minorities acting together. Unfortunately there are lots of such minorities, and lots of contradictory, divergent and mutually destructive stuffs getting done.

    3. patricia

      You didn’t read to the end, so I will help you:

      ” Far from “depressing,” the alternative we face is radically empowering….the seizure of power by the working class becomes a necessity for the continuing survival of the species.

      …the stakes of the proletariat’s historical mission become even higher than its 19th century prophets could imagine. As we cast aside illusions and face the sobering reality that it’s either us or nobody at all, “everyday people” will discover that the biggest conspiracy of all is the one which has undermined their power as a class for so long.”

      1. Montanamaven

        Thanks for helping to clarify why I thought the article interesting. With all the doom and gloom I’ve been feeling over Obamacare and horrible weather, it was a positive view of things and a frank discussion of capitalism, chaos, and conspiracies. I couldn’t at first find where I had found the article, but on searching some more I realized I had found the link at the great Montana web site 4&20 Blackbirds. Very good blog for all things political, not just Montana. So hat tip to Lizard over there for steering me to the New Inquiry site.

    4. from Mexico

      TIm Graham says:

      “I Want to Believe” is just another pathetic rationalization enabling dodos to do nothing about a society that is slowly falling apart.

      I suppose that, to someone clinging to the old Modernist order, it must seem that way.

      The old feudalist order ended when the mythology that lent it moral and intellectual legitimacy — Christianity — ceased to be believed in. So in reaction to it, instead of the wicked old superstitions, we now have a whole new outfit of equally misleading ones. Except now the superstitions float under the guise of science or human nature (e.g., “homo economicus,” the “selfish organism,” the “tabula rasa,” etc.)

      I didn’t find the article “pathetic” at all, but a highly informed and insigtful read.

      1. b2020

        “I want to believe” is a rather wordy example of “Everything has been said already, not just by everybody yet.”

        The expected fallacy in that recap is once more that networks do not have to be pervasive or perfect to create self-reinforcing advantages. Inbred wealth might not organize well, or even at all, but it exists and proliferates. In this respect, I think Assange’s observations are more interesting than this sweeping rehash – the crucial aspect of conspiracies is information asymmetry. That we are [possibly exaggerating in] suspecting inherited disadvantage does not mean that nobody is taking advantage of us….

        If there is anything mythical in all that illumination, it is the bright-siding observation that the unwashed masses have nothing to loose but their chains. That canard is as much part of the cage as any conspiracy theory, both serve to reinforce the powerlessness of those that suffer it. If we all were Ghandi, then the world would be a different place. We ain’t, it isn’t. As far as prescriptions go, ending conspiracies is not a bad one, whether the conspirators are competent and successful, or not.

      2. Glenn Condell

        ‘The old feudalist order ended when the mythology that lent it moral and intellectual legitimacy — Christianity — ceased to be believed in.’

        Hmmm…. surely it had more to do with the rise of the bourgeousie, of merchants and bankers and other nascent capitalists.

        Money started talking, and no-one has been able to shut it up since.

    5. Propertius

      I’d take it a lot more seriously if the author knew the difference between “eminent” and “imminent”.

      1. jrs

        The quality of an argument should always be judged by how good the spelling is – ad spellinem or something.

      2. craazyman

        some things can be both, like a rain coming down from black clouds

        I dutifully read the must read and it went in circles around itself and I wonder when they’ll stop trotting their agents out with screeds like that to delude and misdirect and malign the world’s truth seekers. There is no limit to their capacity for denigration and denial. If you stand on the corner and look up you can see all the translucent butterflies move their subtle wings as softly as the breeze from traffic, alighting on people’s heads and feasting on their bright electric emanations. THEY send these as messengers of deception, to thwart and distort and malign the light stream. YOu think this is an exaggeration but stand there and watch them, watch for a slight disturbance in the air a declination of brightness where the blue of the sky dulls in shapes of valentines almost beyond the limit of perception and you’ll see the wings float like a wisp of cellophane and that’s them. Stand there for hours and count them. 100 or 200 or 500. How can humanity know what’s acting upon it? How can anyone save themselves? People know something is wrong. People stagger in a disbelieving chaos of incredulity and fix their thoughts on things that they think don’t move. But everything moves. And the butterflies float above their heads and they land on their heads and they suck the nectar from their brains and nobody can see it unless they know how. If you wear tinfoil on your head it helps, if you dont’ mind being laughed at.

        1. ohmyheck

          ” People know something is wrong.” Yes, we do. Some people care to know why, and some people just don’t care. But on some level, most people know.

          Beautiful writing there. Glad I didn’t miss it.

          1. craazyman

            I was just making it up.

            People believe all sorts of crazy shit. Most of it is nonsense. The author is mostly right, I think, in the original link. But he runs too much together in his search for human nonsense. Sometimes there’s something really there and when there is, most people are too freaked out to look.

    6. traveler

      Thought it was pretty good. The premise is that we’ve passed through the myth of christianity (taking us a damn long time and we’re not there yet) and now we’re passing through the ‘myth’ of the Illuminati. We seem to have a need to believe there’s an external, overarching force driving our lives, giving them meaning, even if that force is hostile. But eventually, when we work our way through conspiracy theories, there’ll be nothing left to believe in but ourselves. Given enough time… When things get bad enough, the concept that we are *it* may be less scary.

  4. Jay Schiavone

    Duffelblog reminds me of the hilarious Reader’s Digest “Humor in Uniform” column. Evidently an all volunteer humor blog is not meeting out defensive comedy needs. I can see why the Executive branch relies on targeted laugh drones.

  5. Juneau

    re: soldier suicides
    some well demonstrated causes:
    repeated deployments (as discussed by Orlov)

    and chemical exposures like Lariam given to Irish soldiers for malaria:
    “AN RTÉ INVESTIGATION into the use of Lariam as an anti-malarial by the Irish Defence Forces found a “plausible link” between the drug and a number of suicides of soldiers…”

    1. diptherio

      As for the repeated deployments, this may well become the new norm for military life. As Thomas Barnett stated in his National Security Strategy speech:

      This is so much more – interagency. I call this [fighting force], your Dad’s military. I call this [sys admin force], your Mom’s military. Your Dad’s military – Leviathan force, I want them young, male, unmarried, slightly pissed off. They like Nintendo? I say great. I’ve got a nine year old they can have right now.

      You are going to see that war fighting force drawn back into these previously supporting commands…And that is going to be the big stick we break out every so often. Plus this is the force that is never coming home.

      There is a three-hour version of this speech somewhere on the net that I watched but didn’t bookmark and can’t find again. In that version, he expands on the concept of the “perpetually deployed” military. Basically, our soldiers will scamper from one theater of conflict to another, putting down rebels and “terrorists” in Africa, then SE Asia, then S America, then Africa again.

      1. Procopius

        I have doubts that it’s going to work. It was possible in the early nineteenth century, when the Grande Armee was deployed over and over again for twenty years, although there’s no way to tell how many of those soldiers stuck with it for, say, two years and then left and how many survived from the Italian campaigns to Waterloo. The repeated deployments take a greater toll than the policy makers understand, and the top brass will not tell them, “The machine needs some down time for repairs and refitting.” In Vietnam we nearly broke the Army — it took more than ten years to repair.

    2. Anon

      My son, an officer in the military, has a close friend, fellow officer who was an enlisted man in Iraq. The friend told him that they had done some horrible things in Iraq. Things he was ashamed of. He described some of them. The friend was so ashamed that he thought he might return to Iraq someday to start a charity.

      My thought was, we leave the 19 year old kid to bear the guilt and shame, while the old men who sent them their sleep soundly every night.

      1. from Mexico

        Sounds like Ethan McCord.

        McCord was one of the foot soldiers sent in to clean up the bloodbath in the aftermath of the “Collateral Murder” incident (the video of which Manning has now admitted he released to Wikileaks). In a video interview, here’s what McCord had to say:

        I wanted to be that hero, that soldier. So I went, and realized…that there was no enemy. The only terrorists when I was in Iraq was us. We were the terrorists. We were the one terrorizing people.

        And so those who have served as soldiers for the national security state react to it in two very different ways: they either love it or they hate it. The German movie Napola gives a tragic father vs. son portrayal of the contrasting psychological makeups which inform the two opposing views.

        The son, Albrecht Stein, comes to an almost identical conclusion as Ethan McCord:

        In my dreams I am the hero who saves the virgin from the dragon, one who frees the world from evil. When searching for the escapees yesterday, I remembered the boy who wanted to save the world from evil. Upon returning I realized that I myself am that evil, the very evil I wanted to free the world from. Killing the captives was wrong. They weren’t armed, as Stein had told us, just to bait us. We didn’t shoot men, but helpless children.

      2. Bill

        Anon: “My thought was, we leave the 19 year old kid to bear the guilt and shame, while the old men who sent them their sleep soundly every night.”

        Amen Anon….those old men have plenty to be ashamed about, sending these young soldiers on multiple deployments, ruining their lives, their families’ lives, and ruining whatever moral stature we ever had in the world.

        1. Bill

          Amd BTW, in Vietnam, we had only ONE deployment, unless we volunteered for more, and look at the huge effect PTSD had on so many Vietnam vets, the toll for multiple deployments for everyone will be Vietnam multiplied many many times.

          One tour was enough for me, and mine was Gott sei dank not traumatic.

    1. jrs

      My first thought was childlessness, etc.. and the article does note later age of childbirth. Because a woman’s place is barefoot and pregnant and producing rugrats don’t you know. Well actually no, but the body may think so.

      But the article actually thinks it’s not mostly that but mostly about stress. The workplace is a stressful place, no doubt. They say it was stressful for women to exercise power. But it’s also generally stressful for human beings to be powerless (plenty of research on that). Maybe the whole stupid structure of forcing women into a male valued hierarchial structure was wrong in the first place. And it’s not very kind to men without power either. Ugh, F hierarchy, overthrow capitalism, worker ownership and cooperation not competition now. This economic system is killing us all.

    2. Bridget

      The bearing and nursing of multiple children have been known for years to reduce the incidence of breast cancer. Odd that the study didn’t pay a bit more attention to the estrogen issues and instead went straight for the stress…and then engaged in pure speculation over what caused the stress.

  6. diptherio

    Another CounterPunch article worth reading:

    Also, OpOK Relief is rocking-and-rolling. Their facebook page has been my personal antidote for the last couple days:

    Once the sun goes down, the crew behind comes alive.

    The response and relief crews rely on the web crew to direct volunteers and supplies to the areas that need it most. Decentralized, non-hierarchical groups like OpOK Relief use crowdsourcing as a means of gathering vast amounts of information. The information that people on the ground send to our online team is processed and prioritized so that we can address the most neglected and impoverished areas.

    Our friends from Occupy Sandy and InterOccupy have helped us create a cell loop to get information out quickly. The public & volunteers should text @okalert to 23559 to be added to our network for up-to-the-second information on needs.

    As we identify cleanup, dropoff, and food/shelter/housing sites, our web team is putting them on our map ( Check in with these sites to make sure that information is current. We can’t be everywhere all the time (although I’ve certainly been trying!).

          1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef


            Maybe we can ask Congress to let the people put Fort Knox gold to good use.

            I mean, gold is good, when the people have it. I don’t know why some would claim it has no value. If the government is giving away gold, an equal amount for everyone, those who don’t want it can always give it to those who value it.

            If gold has really no value, we should just give it all away to India or China.

          2. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

            I like the one with bear gold bugs – bears who like gold.

            I think another good one would be gold-bearish bugs – insects who don’t like gold.

    1. reslez

      I see analogies in this to the way early Christians organized into a force that eventually converted the entire Roman Empire. The social services and charity provided by Christians made them a necessary and fundamental part of the community. In Occupy Sandy and similar groups we’re seeing support services and disaster relief the existing structures are just plain unable to provide.

  7. petridish

    RE: Obamacare 55 and over

    I have read and reread this Obamacare analysis first posted on Paul Craig Roberts’ website and linked to it several times.

    While the “estate recovery” provisions are diabolical, what I find even more odious is the fact that you could wind up “bouncing” between Medicaid and a subsidized “private” plan before you (mercifully?) exit the system for good. From the analysis:

    “Thus, you could end up bouncing from Medicaid to a subsidized plan or vice versa. By the same token, you could take some extra work to help pay the bills or to save for a vacation, and, oops, you went over 400 percent FPL and are no longer eligible for a tax credit. The Exchange may not find out about this unless you spill the beans, but, no matter how it all plays out, income changes will catch up with you when you file your tax return.”

    And this:

    “Exchanges will be encouraged to use as many different avenues as possible including private databases to keep tabs on your income.”

    What will this mean for your choice of providers? Patients being treated by a provider who accepts their insurance but not Medicaid will be forced to start over with a new provider each time this situation occurs. The implications for continuity of care for those with uncertain or fluctuating incomes are unfathomable. Can you imagine what it would be like to be a patient in the middle of active treatment and summarily cut off and told to go somewhere else because your income has changed? That used to be called patient abandonment.

    Not to mention the confiscation of any extra money you may be able to scrounge up. No getting ahead for you. The insurance company will have it’s tribute.

    What possible justification can there be for the establishment of this twisted, cruel system?

    1. ScottW

      “What possible justification can there be for the establishment of this twisted, cruel system?” Legislators, including Dems and Obama, wanted to create a multi-tier system, in which access to quality is directly tied to personal weath. Don’t want those low income folks crowding my waiting room, or coming to my hospital.

      Krugman wrote a rosey column about Obamacare in the NYT’s yesterday. My guess is he has very nice health insruance thanks to Princeton and cannot really relate to what it is like to be abused by insurers. Obamacare does virtually nothing to lower the outrageous cost of heathcare. Obamacare institutionalizes private health insurers who have been the villains in this story for over 4 decades. Single payer is the only sustainable answer.

      1. petridish

        No kidding. I keep thinking of the Guardian article from yesterday’s links about the harsh reality of the Honey Boo Boo TV show.

        In the last paragraph the author observes:

        “Honey Boo Boo may pretend to show a sympathetic depiction of its characters, but the editing and framing of the show make it hard to avoid the sense that the cast is being presented not so much as a different class, but practically a different species altogether.”

        A DIFFERENT SPECIES says it all.

      2. zephyrum

        Krugman is a tool, as is Obama. They seek approval and adulation from a narrow constituency of their own selection. Their daily question is not “What is right?”, but rather “What will gain me the most approval from my chosen group?”

        No person, no system can subjugate like the unstoppable force of one’s own self. When such an individual also has power and influence over others then evil ensues.

    2. diane

      What possible justification can there be for the establishment of this twisted, cruel system?

      Absolutely none, the system is barbaric.

    3. Massinissa

      “What possible justification can there be for the establishment of this twisted, cruel system?”


      The insurance companies arnt seeing the quarterly gains they want. And theyre CLEARLY more important than you or I.

  8. down2long

    Neel Kashkari for governor of California? This must be an accidental gift from the God of Mammon. These guys really DO NOT know, cannot fathom, the deep river of revilement on which they float. A tenant of mine has friends in the “banking” industry in New York. He says they are bailing. It is no fun being in your 30’s and having everyone vilify you. Poor dears. Try losing your house to fraud. That’ll screw up your day.

    1. zephyrum

      So true. The last couple “investment professionals” I’ve met were apologetic when stating their occupation.

      1. Michael

        Of course they apologize in person for the stuff they do “impersonally” for a corporation. It makes life easier for them. As does the car service, nice trips, attractive partners, multi-bedroom house in Connecticut and so on. If they are so sorry, tell them to do something worthwhile with their lives instead of shill for mammon.

  9. ScottW

    “Kafka, meet Orwell: peek behind the scenes of the modern surveillance state” It would be nice if this video went viral. To be free from suspicion is a concept most Americans fail to appreciate. We mindlessly walk through airport security, accept the fact all of our digital communications are monitored, and for what? I always want to ask the TSA guy doing my patdown if he is suspicious I am going to bring the plane down. But if I did, I would be hauled over to secondary inspection for interfering with the search. And for the record, in case the Government is reading this, I have never owned a gun, never been arrested and present absolutely no threat of physical harm to anyone.

    Suggesting the Post Office has the right to read all written correspondence you send would be met with loud objection. Why so little pushback with the 21st century equivalent for communication? We are told don’t put anything in an e-mail you don’t want everyone else to read and we label a fool the person who fails to follow that advice, rather than condemn the Government surveillance.

    We need a national conversation (without government involvement) of why we are letting our privacy evaporate, and allowing it to be replaced with an aura of suspicion. Our negligence in addressing this issue will eventually catch up with all of us. Even those who believe they have nothing to hide.

    1. diptherio

      A common liberal response to concerns about full-spectrum surveillance is that the mass of data makes analysis impossible and so we don’t really need to be concerned. The problem, however, as the video makes clear, is that while useful analysis may well be impossible, all of that data will be used, one way or another, as in the two cases highlighted in the film. The inevitable result is that we are all now entered in a security-state lottery where any of us might be selected at random and have our digital information interpreted to make us look guilty. Even not seeming guilty is evidence of guilt!

      The conversation that went on a few weeks ago at the Disorder of Things blog on accountability in the age of automated systems seems highly relevant in this context:

      To give just one example, what does it mean when a surveillance algorithm mistakenly targets an innocent individual? Who is responsible? The individuals who carry out the arrest? The institution? The programmers of the algorithm? The company which sold the software? On a causal level, agency has to be attributed to the entire assemblage here – yet for political and ethical reasons this remains unsatisfying.

      So a first open question that assemblage theory raises is how must our notions of agency and responsibility be transformed in order to take into account this reality?

  10. petridish

    RE: Female Professionals and Breast Cancer

    God, what a hot mess this article is!! Someone needs to buy these “researchers” a copy of Nate Silver’s “The Signal and the Noise.”

    Not sure when “teaching and nursing” became “managerial” positions subject to “gender inequality” issues. I thought they were going to discuss all those women CEO’s, CFO’s, COO’s and C blank O’s. Oh, wait…

    But the kicker was this: “Unfortunately, the Wisconsin study did not collect information on health-related behaviors in 1975.” That might have been a good place to start.

    1. Yves Smith Post author

      Yes, I should have commented on the definitions. Pretty bizarre.

      And that further makes you wonder about agendas. Like women should be barefoot and pregnant, look if they get real jobs, they have health problems!

      Plus as Skippy pointed out (extracted a LONG study in the last week or so), women who get more frequent mammograms have more cancer! The study mused that (per my pet peeve that mammograms are great at diagnosing slow-motion growths that won’t kill you, you’ll die with them rather than of them, and bad at catching the fast moving lethal type) the mammograms had caught a lot of “cancers” that would have receded if left alone (it didn’t consider that the more frequent exposure of soft tissue to radiation might in and of it self have also been a factor).

      Anyhow, nurses were a major part of the population studied. They might have dominated the sample. You can get they were more religious about getting mammograms. That ALONE could have explained the difference.

      1. skippy

        The most sanguine part of the exercise noted – is – hyper vigilance* in a boutique illness (*largely driven by non medical parameters vs. overall health and well being – physical and mental).

        Now layer that on top of the most egregious contributing factor ie environmental [our own bloody fault] wrt cancer/67ish%, it begs the question, does it not.

        skippy… econnednomics strikes again[!!!]… blind paper expectations seigniorage… before all other things.

        BTW you looked terrific on set the other day, be nice if you had your own show with out becoming a stage prop like the rest of the hosts out there…. sigh… some teachers you just want to sit and listen too, endlessly with out effort… dbl sigh…

  11. Herman Sniffles

    “…(to admit that) the international ruling class is nothing more than the wealthiest representatives of a species dominated by forces outside of its control, is to admit that there’s no way out of eminent catastrophe..”

    Sounds about right. Why not just admit it? After the glowing heap cools, the human race may rise Phoenix-like, wearing a dirty loin cloth, spear in hand, and then (we can only hope) most of these survivors will be eaten by something large and angry.

    “Facing the imminent threat of ecological ruin and unprecedented human suffering which capitalist states are powerless to reverse, the stakes of the proletariat’s historical mission become even higher than its 19th century prophets could imagine.”

    Ah yes, K. Marx wearing a red cape emblazoned with a big “S” and ready to leap tall capitalist structures in a single bound. Wasn’t it Mike Tyson who said ‘everybody believes in a socialist utopita until they run out of toilet paper’? Nothing like a good hyperbolic Marxist rant to get the old blood boiling first thing in the morning. Truck drivers unite!!

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      I understand to be really green, one goes without toilet paper.

      Perhaps that’s why the real green movement is slow to take off.

      1. neo-realist

        Promoting the use of leaves in lieu of toilet paper (sounds green to me) probably isn’t a good sales pitch. Besides, what of the poison ivy risk?

  12. 1st outer inner last

    I call bullshit on the must-read. Structural analysis is all well and good, but Shanahan can’t use it to disprove the existence of elite repression and crime. That’s just a rehash of the old stereotype of the hippie denouncing ‘the system, man.’

    The article is not argument, it just models an attitude for people to adopt: the same old bag of dismissive tricks for leftists. Take accusations of elite impunity and make it a pathology, pontificate about ‘the conspiratorial mind’ like it’s an axis on DSM V. Generalize about Conspiracy Culture because it’s not specific findings and accusations, it’s just a bunch of oddballs who think stuff up. Cite Lizard People, Ancient Aliens, Freemasons, and “the poor maligned Rothschilds” in the same sentence with Occupy’s one percent. Cite little green men in the same sentence with crime and repression by government officials.

    No facts, just a fey titter. They’re just ‘stray facts,’ after all. Be sure to drag out designated punching bag Alex Jones (but not his interlocutors like Busby or Pepper or Boyle.) Stick to the caricature and ignore the particulars: in the case of the camps, if you’ve read FM 3-39.40, don’t admit it. And the 9/11 truth movement, well… never mind it.

    This exploits a continuing tension between the self-styled left and advocates for rule of law. The left tends to see law, from whatever source, as bullshit. But if law is bullshit, crime’s beside the point. The system did it so impunity’s no big deal. That’s ideal for criminal officials. The perspective of international criminal law is more of a threat. Notice that for all his talk about the New World Order, in a volume where that’s the theme, Shanahan doesn’t mention the original, state-sponsored version of the conspiracy: the New World Order is the UN. They say they’re going to hold state conduct to standards, but they just want to take over.

    Shanahan cites Chomsky without explaining why it is that cabals bore him. In a lawless regime, Chomsky says, of course there’s going to be crime. Of course you’re going to kill JFK/MLK/RFK to get your way, when you can get away with it.

    1. from Mexico

      “What rules the world is ideas,” observed Irving Kristol, a prominent leader of the neoconservative counterrevolution, “because ideas define the way reality is perceived.” Our ideas are expressed as either mythology, theory or hypothesis, all of which can harden into dogma. In order to prevent this from happening, they must constantly be tested against observation and experience. These are the points which I believe Shanahan is trying to drive home.

      David Sloan Wilson, in his book Evolution for Everyone,, makes a similar point:

      Since writing Darwin’s Cathedral I have traveled the world speaking about evolution and religion to audiences of all sorts. I end my talk with the following passage from Darwin’s autobiography about a field trip that he took as a young man with his professor Adam Sedgwick to a valley in Wales:

      We spent many hours in Cwm Idwal, examing all of the rocks with extreme care, as Sedgwick was anxious to find fossils in them; but neither of us saw a trace of the wonderful glacial phenomena all around us; we did not notice the plainly scored rocks, the perched boulders, the lateral and terminal moraines. Yet these phenomena are so conspicuous that…a house burnt down by fire did not tell its story more plainly than did this valley. If it had still been filled by a glacier, the phenomena would have been less distinct than they are now.

      This passage wonderfully illustrates the need for a theory to see what is in front of our faces. Darwin and Sedgwick could not see the evidence for glaciers because the theory of glaciation had not yet been proposed. With the theory in mind, the confirming evidence became so obvious that the glaciers might as well have still been present.

      Occam’s razor, making a hypothesis, and testing the hypothesis, that’s all. There is no need for intelligent design, as Stephen Jay Gould put it:

      The radicalism of natural selection lies in its power to dethrone some of the deepest and most traditional comforts of Western thought, particularly the notion that nature’s benevolence, order, and good design, with humans at a sensible summit of power and excellence, proves the existence of an omnipotent and benevolent creator who loves us most of all (the old-style theological version), or at least that nature has meaningful directions, and that humans fit into a sensible and predictable pattern regulating the totality (the modern and more secular version).

      To these beliefs Darwinian natural selection presents the most contrary position imaginable. Only one causal force produces evolutionary change in Darwin’s world: the unconscious struggle among individual organisms to promote their own personal reproductive success—nothing else, and nothing higher (no force, for example, works explicitly for the good of species or the harmony of ecosystems)…

      The very phenomena that traditional views cite as proof of benevolence and intentional order—the good design of organisms and the harmony of ecosystems—arise by Darwin’s process of natural selection only as side consequences of a singular causal principle of apparently opposite meaning: organisms struggling for themselves alone. (Good design becomes one pathway to reproductive success, while the harmony of ecosystems records a competitive balance among victors.) Darwin’s system should be viewed as morally liberating, not cosmically depressing.

      1. Garrett Pace

        “Darwin’s system should be viewed as morally liberating”

        That’s chilling. Is the apothieosis of culture just the ability to say, “screw you, I’ve got mine” without feeling guilty about it?

        1. Massinissa

          Well, I want to point out that Darwin never coined the term ‘Survival of the Fittest’. And the reason he didnt, is because its a terribly misleading term.

          Most organisms work together, and dont try and screw eachother over. Much of nature is about species working in groups for group benefit. Those kinds of creatures are far more common than creatures who murder for no apparent reason.

          The ‘survival of the fittest’ concept is a bastardization of Darwinism, created by Herbert Spencer, the creator of SOCIAL darwinism.

          Spencer corrupted Darwinism, and tried to make it into just the permissive type of immoral social theory that you mention.

          1. Garrett Pace

            According to this paradigm, “group benefit” is irrelevant if it doesn’t translate into aggregated individual benefit. Greedy gene theory teaches that organisms don’t work together because cooperation is virtuous, but because specific genes that foster collaboration happen to get passed on more frequently.

            If all this is “morally liberating”, it’s a peculiar sort of liberty where we are free to do what our genes tell us and can stop fussing about self determination.

            Nature red in tooth and claw. Woo hoo.

          2. from Mexico

            I do not know of any mythology, religion, theory or hypothesis which, under the ministrations of a sufficiently egoistic and/or egotistical mind, cannot be converted to the purposes of greed and self-interest. The power of the self’s passions and ambitions to corrupt the self’s reason is a simple recognition of the facts of life which refute all theories about the possibility of a completely disinterested self.

            Since the very day Darwin articulated his theory, the drive was on by the overly egoistic and egotistic to convert it to their party. Darwin’s theory, however, was far more nuanced than that:

            In a famous passage from Descent of Man, Darwin notes that morally upright people do not have an obvious advantage over less-upright people within their own “tribe,” but that tribes of morally upright people would robustly outcompete other tribes. He concluded by saying “… and this would be natural selection.”


            Converging lines of evidence suggest that the key difference between human ancestors and other primate species was the suppression of fitness differences within groups, concentrating selection at the group level. Hunter-gatherer societies are fiercely egalitarian. Meat is scrupulously shared; aspiring alpha males are put in their place; and selfserving behaviors are censured. Unable to succeed at each other’s expense, members of hunter-gatherer groups succeed primarily by teamwork.


          3. Massinissa


            There are plenty of wolf packs and groups of simians that work together in groups without direct kinship ties

          4. from Mexico

            @ Garrett Pace

            “Evil is always the assertion of some self-interest without regard to the whole, whether the whole be conceived as the immediate community, or the total community of mankind, or the total order of the world,” notes the theologian Reinhold Niebuhr. In the Jewish-Christian tradition, he goes on to explain, it is the faith in a transendent God which makes it possible for Hebraic religion to escape the parochial identification of God and the nation. The transcendent God is not just the god of the nation, nor even the total community of mankind, but of the entire world of nature.

            How did this transcendent God come about? According to Niebuhr:

            It is interesting to note that the process of divorcing God from the nation was a matter of both spiritual insight and actual experience. If the early prophets had not said, as Amos, “Are ye not as the children of the Ethiopians unto me, saith the Lord” (Amos 9:7), faith in the God of Israel might have perished with the captivity of Judah. But it was the exile which brought this process to a trimphant conclusion. A second Isaiah could build on the spiritual insights of an Amos, and could declare a God who gave meaning to existence quite independent of the vicissitudes of a nation, which had been the chief source of all meaning to the pious Jew.

            –REINHOLD NIEBUHR, Optimism, pessimism, and religious faith

            So how does an evolutionary biologist explain a transcendent morality? The only one I’ve ever seen tackle the problem is David Sloan Wilson:

            Within-group selection by itself creates a world without morality in which individuals merely use each other to maximize their relative fitness. Group selection creates a moral world within groups but doesn’t touch the world of between-group interactions, which remains exactly as instrumental as within-group interactions in the absence of group selection. Moral conduct among groups can evolve in principle, but only by extending the hierarchy to include groups of groups. This possibility is not as far-fetched as it may appear. Remember that individual organisms are already groups of groups of groups, if the emerging paradigm of major transitions is correct. Perhpas history will reveal the rudiments of moral conduct among human groups struggling to emerge against opposing forces, rather than the total absense of moral conduct among groups. Even so, we should expect far more naked explitation among groups than within groups.

            –DAVID SLOAN WILSON, Darwin’s Cathedral

            Niebuhr observed the same phenomenon that Sloan Wilson did:

            The inevitable hypocrisy, which is associated with all of the collective activities of the human race, springs chiefly from this source: that individuals have a moral code which makes the actions of collective man an outrage to their conscience. They therefore invent romantic and moral interpretations of the real facts, preferring to obscure rather than reveal the true character of their collective behavior…. The fact that the hypocrisy of man’s group behavior…expresses itself not only in terms of self-justification but in terms of moral justification of human behavior in general, symbolizes one of the tragedies of the human spirit: its inability to conform its collective life to its individual ideals. As individuals, men believe that they ought to love and serve each other and establish justice between each other. As racial, economic and national groups they take for themselves, whatever their power can command.

            –REINHOLD NIEBUHR, Moral Man & Immoral Society

        2. Garrett Pace

          Down South:

          Darwin presented a new paradigm and it’s taken people quite a while to come to grips with it. Motivations and actions that once had moral and cultural values assigned to them are now exposed as utterly, though unconsciously, selfish.

          The social darwinists got it really wrong, but look at the foundation they were building on. With our new post-morality, we are still trying to describe life and culture in terms of virtue, still pretending like it is something external to the bloody struggle for survival. That’s what is so poignant about Gould’s statement “morally liberating”. Sure, I guess, but it’s the liberation of abandoning the very notion of morality as something common to all people, or established by some caring omnipotent. It’s liberation from ever telling another person, “hey, that’s WRONG.” Says you and what army?

          Where will that ever go? “Cosmic depression” is going to dog us for as long as we want to care about anything more than eating and propagating.

          Modern thinkers tell us that, depressing or not, exploding fairy tales is the harsh and necessary work of facing up to reality. All this pretension about liberation etc. is just some sugar to make the bitter medicine go down easier. In that sense, then, it’s just a new smiley face obscuring a cold and unfeeling universe, only it’s less convincing than the religious one that used to be there.

          As for my beliefs, I’m very invested in the idea that there’s more at stake than just the DNA configuration of future life forms. Natural selection certainly describes the past as we see it, but I am hopeful it doesn’t describe eternity.

          1. Jim

            Could it be that we have never really been modern or post-modern because there was never really any absolute break in history that gave rise to a system of ideas and institutions that we have come to call modernity and post-modernity?

            Could it also be that even though much of 19th and early 20th century philosophy proclaimed the end of metaphysics and the death of God we are weaving our way back to a more metaphysical politics in which the end of the political is the harmonious ordering of the soul, the household and the city according to a standard which fuses goodness with beauty and truth? (See the blog commentary of Banger over the past week or so for the flavor of what I would call a yearning for a more metaphysical politics)

          2. Garrett Pace

            “end of the political is the harmonious ordering of the soul, the household and the city according to a standard which fuses goodness with beauty and truth?”

            I hope so, but nationalism will have to founder and it’s still going pretty strong, as bad a deal as it is for the proles.

      2. peace

        Thanks for the links, Mexico and Montanamaven. David Sloan Wilson’s article is a must read regarding ingroup cooperation paired with outgroup threats and competition.

        Regarding conspiracy theories: we often overlook individuals’ preferences and agency when discussing group affiliation and cohesion processes. Like-minded individuals validate one another and sometimes collaborate. Collaborations among like-minded individuals are not always conscious agreements or formal contracts (i.e., conspiracies, collusion, etc.). We each decide to participate in collective action and collaboration; we also each participate in the legitimation of narratives that match our values and the contemporary zeitgeist.
        We all have agency as individuals and as groups in the formation and support of collaborations and narratives.
        Yes, sometimes there are more formal contracts among groups but more often they are informal agreements that are only based on an agreed upon set of values (e.g., “natural selection is fundamentally competitive” vs. “natural selection is fundamentally cooperative”).

        Agency persists.

    2. WorldisMorphing

      [” That’s just a rehash of the old stereotype of the hippie denouncing ‘the system, man.’”]

      -I’m sorry, but the hippies were right…

      [“This exploits a continuing tension between the self-styled left and advocates for rule of law. The left tends to see law, from whatever source, as bullshit. But if law is bullshit, crime’s beside the point.”]

      -The Rule of Law is an attempt to codify conflict resolution between citizens and between citizens and society, through morals and reason.
      Its bastard offspring, Corporate Law, is the creation of a Machine, and an attempt to codify conflict resolution between a Machine and a citizen or between two Machines. Since the Machines produce the wealth, they have unfortunately been the ones distributing it two.
      Here, morals and reason are…negotiable.

      Crime is not pointless, but it’s built-in…

  13. Garrett Pace

    We all have more ancestors in common than we may think:

    So, if you hold a Roman coin that clearly saw long circulation, it was handled by ancestors of yours, probably many of them.

    Genetically, however, this connection becomes somewhat less special as the years roll down. From the article:

    “Most of the people you are descended from are no more genetically related to you than strangers are. Or to put it another way, your genealogical family tree, which includes all the history of your family going back thousands of years, is much larger than your genetic family tree—the people whom genome sequencing would pinpoint as related to you.”

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      Does one have more ancestors say, 5,000 years ago, than there were humans at that time?

      1. Garrett Pace

        2^30 > 1 billion, and it takes more than 30 generations to get back just a thousand years to William of Normandy, even. Our family trees stop expanding and turn inwards rather recently.

    2. Garrett Pace

      I should point out the obvious fallacy about us not being closely related to our ancestors. We are related to SOMEONE, surely, and I think on average the more times an ancestor appears in our family tree, the more genetic material we share.

  14. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

    US entering Asian century with eyes closed.

    Asians know that being blind is not disadvantageous. The popular, blind swordsman, Satoichi, he was better than all the other samurai who could see.

  15. Herman Sniffles

    I was in the small town of Oroville in northern California yesterday. I’m pretty sure this is where most of the “WalMartian” pictures you see on the internet are taken. In fact, a vist to the Walmart in Oroville is an experience not soon forgotten (I’m pretty sure they sell ice cream in 50 gallon steel barrels, and Cheetos Cheese puffs by the bale, like oat hay). Oroville is an interesting little town. It was web-center for the KKK for the entire western US in the 1920’s, and hobos who rode through town back then were in danger of being shot right off their freight trains. We might say in current parlance that the town “has an attitude.” And by god, it’s where I shop. It’s still famous for it’s “poor Rebuplicans” and for being the center for methamphetamine production in the western US. Anyway, there was a young woman parked in the space next to me in a tremendous black SUV with about six kids in it. She was maybe 27 and looked kind of tired and pissed off, and quite pretty, her long blond hair pulled back in a ponytail and her makeup apparently applied with a shovel and blowtorch. I hate to use the term “white trash” but hey, takes one to know one. But what caught my attention was that all over the windows of her SUV she had written in some kind of white paint (soap?) the words “HELL NO GMO.” In spite of myself, this gives me hope.

  16. TomDor

    RE: High Home ownership bad for employment.

    Peterson institute would of course publish this tripe.
    Missing is the fact that high home ownership increases the cost of owning or living on a piece of ground on this planet.
    The bubble in real estate did one thing very well – it made occupying a place on the planet more expensive for everyone who needed a spot but were a little late to the game. Basically; the price to build a house did not change much – it was the land value that increased faster than inflation and wages needed to compensate or keep-up. Everyone wanted to invest in property thinking that speculating in the fast rise of prices would yield a rate of return that outpaced inflation, taxes and carry cost without employing labor and capital for improvements…..the result is that someone who was born into this world would pay more for a place on this earth than his/her parents.
    So, lower mobility is not a result of ownership but of prices to live and work being higher than what is affordable… a private debt trap.
    Big money and securitization are the winners (hack cough) speculators… the economic rent extractors are the winners… they have a compound interest stream and captured the full rise in property values – this rise that was created by people moving-into an area should belong to the people via taxation for government services…instead the rise was taking into private hands and the rise in prices also had the double effect of making living and doing business more expensive.
    Perhaps, we all should think about taxing at 100%; the rise in land prices beyond a measure of inflation in order to prevent another bust of another boom. Currently, the private debt overhang – mainly in real estate – is hampering recovery.
    Of course, Peterson Institute is publishing this report and intentionally omitting the true problem in order to advance their economic rent taking and vested predatory activities that were root cause of our current Great Recession .

    For more info please refer to Micheal Hudson, Bill Black and Tax Facts ….. I have found IMO these resources nail it. Also, see Veblem)

    Legal Gambling – (from TAX FACTS published in the 1920s and available through google books)

    “The gloom is fading from the real estate situation. More nibbles during the last few weeks than the last three years. If January brings us good rains, this next year will open the door to the sunshine – a case of rain bringing the sun.
    It is to be hoped, however, that there will never be another boom. The crash of the boom of 1923 was due to the same causes that wrecked the wall street stock market. People sold what they did not own. They made a payment down in the hope of getting the property off their hands before it began to burn. Real estate fell into the hands of sharp-shooting gamblers who had no interest in land. To them it was just a pile of blue chips on a roulette wheel.”

  17. Doug Terpstra

    Re: “Obama’s Terrorism Speech”, Greenwald is one of very few semi-mainstream journalists who really get Obama, even after five years of his deceitful misdirection. I wonder how long The Guardian will hang on to him. He’s a rare public treasure.

    Greenwald on Obama: “[His public proclamations signal] nothing about what he actually will do. I’m genuinely amazed that there are still smart people who treat these speeches as though they do.”

    Indeed. Barack Obama is the quintessential politician who speaks eloquently out of both sides of his mouth at the same time with artfully-ambiguous, self-cancelling rhetoric. He possesses a serpentine forked-tongue normally associated with palefaces, which, when combined with disarming body language and amiable bearing, gives him a rare (and dubious) aptitude for fooling most of the people most of the time (incredibly, his public approval rating still tops 50%!). His is an entirely false persona masterfully-crafted to convey nobility, integrity, and honor even while he is wholly dedicated to the service of evil.

    Either Lucifer has his best agent yet, or some very serious competition. Maybe Obama is actually one of the ancient alien lizard people, a reptilian shape-shifter who sacrifices babies at the Bohemian Grove. Yeah, that’s it :)

    1. Propertius

      Greenwald is one of very few semi-mainstream journalists who really get Obama

      I think plenty of other semi-mainstrem “jounalists” “get” Obama – they’re just much more interested in maintaining privileged access than in telling the truth. Corruption comes in many flavors.

    2. Massinissa

      “He possesses a serpentine forked-tongue normally associated with palefaces”

      No surprise there, being half white and all. More thoroughbred black Right wingers like, say, Herman Cain, cant pull that kind of thing off.

  18. scraping_by

    The argument that conspiracy theory attributes agency to non-agency phenomenon has been around a long time, and is recycled every time TPTB have something waiting in the wings. Usually contrasted against the straw men popularized by the cheap books of the John Birch Society about fifty years ago, it’s normally some version of historical determinism that, oddly, predicts an outcome favorable to the elite who provide most of the employment for the chattering classes.

    Professing scorn for the Rothschilds-as-puppetmasters view is an invariable fallback when the underhanded becomes the norm. Read the Medicare story in today’s Links and image the millions of lower middle class citizens who are going to howl about being blindsided. And this scam wasn’t the inevitable outcome of dynamic social forces. It was a group of people, lobbyists, members of congress, and probably Administration types, getting together and thinking up a way to impoverish large groups of people. In other words, conspirators.

    Also, conspiracy isn’t always anti-establishment. The lure of ‘inside information’ extends and protects the power elite. Many of the so called sophisticated investors in Madoff’s scheme knew his returns couldn’t be honest, and accepted the rumor that he was front running the exchange. The self-fulfilling belief that Social Security is dead keeps most people out of the faces of those killing it. Lots of leftists support Barry on the widespread rumor that he’s gay. Though with Shrub inching out of the closet, that doesn’t seem all that ground-breaking.

    Believing all that glitters is gold is never a good idea. In this, the ‘opinion elite’ are behind those they think they lead, who can recognize the work of insider groups when they see it.

      1. ScottS

        I don’t know about fire, but you could program the head to crash into the platter. You could also have a dummy password that shows an empty hard disk. All things are possible in software.

  19. Hugh

    Re “I want to believe”, someone once said that just because you’re paranoid doesn’t mean they aren’t out to get you. There have always been conspiracy theories. They are born of distrust in the standard explanations and/or those making them. Conspiracy theories I would argue flourish in periods of widespread distrust of authority. We know they are lying to us. The question is why and what they are hiding. There is a leveling of explanations. All are valid because none are.

    To the creationist, it is evolution which is the conspiracy theory, itself part of a vaster secular humanist conspiracy. We can say that’s silly, but it is not any evidence we can bring to the issue but the authority we ascribe to it which is in question. Look at it this way, which was the real conspiracy theory, that we invaded Iraq because of WMD and its ties to al Qaida or as an attempt to secure basing rights and control its oil? The full force of the Establishment view was behind WMD and al Qaida. So if the official explanation was a lie there, then why not evolution?

    What I dislike about this post is its embrace of a great Marxian historical process which sweeps all along before it. Each of us just playing out our assigned role. I talk about class and class war a lot. Class explains how a group of people with no clear organization and often at odds with each other can still loot the rest of us, essentially acting as if such an organization did exist. However, in my view, none of this removes an iota of the culpability the looters have for their looting. They are, like the rest of us, capable of moral choice. Just because they have constructed a justification for their looting by removing any element of social responsibility for it (Greed is good!) means nothing. They are not historical marionettes. They could have made other choices.

    1. Massinissa

      We can say all we want that the banksters are just playing their role, and in a way they really are.

      But that doesnt mean we shouldnt punish the living daylights out of them (although we cant, at the moment, at least).

      It may not be personal, what theyre doing, but theyre still fully culpable.

      By the way, as for your comment on creationists: I think the difference is in the centralization. The political establishment of America is just one group. One very large complicated group, but only really one group, with alot of centralization

      The scientific establishment, while arguably not as decentralized as it used to be or should be, concentrated as it is now into a few hundred important universities around the world, its still decentralized enough to make it doubtful that they are ALL lieing to us with almost no important dissenters to speak of. Not to mention that evolution has been considered fact for a century now, so you have a centuries worth of dead scientists to validate the argument as well.

      And anyway, a book written thousands of years ago is hardly a better authority: if evolution just so happens to be somehow wrong, it would not necessarily mean that creationism would be right.

    2. dSquib

      Conspiracy theories are like theories of any kind, there are sound ones, and ridiculous ones. The ones that aren’t called conspiracy theories anymore, are only those found to be true! Iraq WMD fakery, LIBOR, COINTELPRO, Guatemalan syphilis experiments et cetera et cetera. And those are some extreme examples. You can accuse a government of simple deception or lying and someone will scream “conspiracy nut”!

      1. Massinissa

        I agree.

        Some conspiracy theories can hold some water. I still dont know whether or not to believe the establishment story on 9/11

        But some other conspiracy theories, like the Federal Reserve assassinating Kennedy… Just make me want to facepalm, really really hard.

      2. diane

        The Tuskegee and Guatemalan syphilis experiments, along with the Manhattan Project’s plutonium injections experiment (all of which certainly did involve a great deal of conspiring at top levels of the government and medical industry in order to cover it up) are perfect examples of why I cringe every time the words Conspiracy Theorist are loosely used as an insult.

        I would bet that despite our thoroughly corrupt state of affairs, if some victim were to reveal a similar abomination today as those the above examples, ‘really smart people’ still would not believe it was going on and further punish and torment the victim by ostracizing them as paranoiac. The fact is, the victims chosen are generally always those without a voice and connections (a feature, not a bug), and those doing the fingerwagging ‘smart people,’ generally white middle and upper classes,’ about conspiracy theorists are generally those who have far more of a voice, and connections.

        I cannot imagine the hideous loneliness, horror and emotional trauma of any of the victims of those experiments (let alone the gruesome deaths) who realized they had been used as guinea pigs and shared that information only to be considered insane.

  20. ScottS

    Re: I Want to Believe The New Inquiry (MontanaMaven). Today’s must read.

    That’s what The Masons want you to believe!

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      My conspiracy theory is that with GM foods, they have put holes in our brains so that we no longer can think about conspiracy theories.

      From personal experience, I can say that, after going organic and free-range, I can see through the schemes of the 0.01%/banksters much clearly now.

      I expect drinking triple-filtered water will help even more.

  21. dSquib

    Concerning surveillance, is there a point where we should favour the growth of the surveillance state once it’s already reached saturation point, where going beyond will make such an arrangement increasingly pointless and unwieldy, and less effective?

    BTW I don’t mean effective in stopping crime, I know there are already convincing arguments that surveillance doesn’t work to that end, I mean effective in creating a generally pliant population, forever fearing the police, debt collectors, employers etc.

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      Never less effective, until we reach the point of worshipping our monitors.

      Witness FICO. We worship it. We are proud of our FICO scores…at least those arrogant, proud types.

  22. WorldisMorphing

    [” That’s just a rehash of the old stereotype of the hippie denouncing ‘the system, man.’”]

    -I’m sorry, but the hippies were right…

    [“This exploits a continuing tension between the self-styled left and advocates for rule of law. The left tends to see law, from whatever source, as bullshit. But if law is bullshit, crime’s beside the point.”]

    -The Rule of Law is an attempt to codify conflict resolution between citizens and between citizens and society, through morals and reason.
    Its bastard offspring, Corporate Law, is the creation of a Machine, and an attempt to codify conflict resolution between a Machine and a citizen or between two Machines. Since the Machines produce the wealth, they have unfortunately been the ones distributing it two.
    Here, morals and reason are…negotiable.

    Crime is not pointless, but it’s built-in…

  23. skippy

    Make the bad man go away…

    Bill Gates in Australia to promote foreign aid – newsline

    I’ve got some sticky debt candy for underdeveloped country’s… barf~~~

    Skippy… since most foreign aid is in the form of loans WTF is he on about… eh. Maybe someone should inform themselves about the subject before opining from a position of ignorance or not[?], up on the big stage of my billions?

    PS. Hay Kill Bill… worried about debt repayment much[!!!???], in a global economic down turn…

  24. Glenn Condell

    ‘The expected fallacy in that recap is once more that networks do not have to be pervasive or perfect to create self-reinforcing advantages. Inbred wealth might not organize well, or even at all, but it exists and proliferates.’

    Yes – the very rich and powerful do not need to be evil and connected in sinister ways. Hell, they don’t even have to be aware. It is enough to be rich, because these exotics thrive in soils full of microbes like lawyers, bankers, pollies, media types, etc who climb over each other to suck enough sap to keep their own families from falling back into the formless mud. These apparatchiks compete with each other, and win by maximising their patron’s position, which when netted out across the system produces the outrageous results we see. Most of the 1% are I should think at one remove (at least) from the sharp end of their impact, with agents like the above to exercise power on behalf of their wealth.

    ‘In this respect, I think Assange’s observations are more interesting than this sweeping rehash – the crucial aspect of conspiracies is information asymmetry.’

    Agree, and Assange’s observations (of what is wrong) deal more usefully in the concrete, as do his prescriptions, unlike the rather platitudinous and woolly ruminations in the article.

    ‘My old co-driver Nick and I would pass the time on interstate furniture deliveries by assessing the incipient mass movements taking off around the world’

    My first thought was that Tom Friedman must be moonlighting.

    Craazy said: ‘I dutifully read the must read and it went in circles around itself and I wonder when they’ll stop trotting their agents out with screeds like that to delude and misdirect and malign the world’s truth seekers’

    That was my second thought! The whole effext is a sort of narcotic ‘nothing to see here’

    ‘If we all were Ghandi, then the world would be a different place. We ain’t, it isn’t.’


    ‘Familiar as Nick and I were with this tired old canard, and especially wary of the xenophobia and anti-Semitism with which it typically comes packaged’

    Obligatory drive-by smear is a bit of a giveaway. For me, these world-weary dismissals of the ‘tired old canards’ of ‘conspiracy theory’ are becoming tired old canards themselves.

    ‘The confusion arises when these connections are posited as the result of an exceptional conspiracy, without which they would be disparate social phenomena.’

    But if they are connections, even without ‘an exceptional conspiracy’, they are still connected, no? If so, and they do in fact end up making our lives more miserable (and the 1%’s infinitesimally nicer) then the provenance of the connections doesn’t matter, does it? We still have to break the connections, don’t we?

    ‘Indeed, the conspiracy theory might just be a final moment of theology among a class becoming aware of itself and its historic power.’


    ‘the conspiracy theory is willing to look in the most exotic and improbable places for its cause, anywhere but where it actually lives: the banal mechanisms of daily work, production, circulation, social reproduction, and the promotion and expansion of private property’

    Nuh. The conspiracy theory looks for motive as the motor of the inequalities that bedevil us, when means and opportunity are at least as important, and that element of motive which does exist is just as if not more likely to live in the legions of ambitious spear-carriers of wealth than wealth itself.

    ‘the seizure of power by the working class becomes a necessity for the continuing survival of the species’


    ‘If the myths we have ceased to believe in are being replaced by those more absurd still and equally fated to unbelief, perhaps the challenge becomes crafting better myths; more convincing myths, myths grounded in the material reality of daily life, of daily work and life in common; myths which smash the artificial divisions between us, myths which know that the past cannot be recaptured but that the future remains unwritten’

    That sounds like something Obama could have read off the teleprompter. I would prefer the truth myself.

  25. Late to the Party

    Re: Conspiracy article.

    So, in the Marxist apocalypse all the working people’s scales fall from their eyes and they walk outside, blinking, into the dawning light of their bright new day?

    So, there is some natural mechanism explaining today’s ills: that capital seeks its own, or something, and eventually coalesces into a single all-encompassing bubble. And the mechanism for the subjugated classes’ (and the rest of ours, too) failure to realize this is what? Doesn’t this require an independent explanation? A parsimonious one: A conspiracy it seems, but with none by evidence, then a conspiracy it still may well be, though one which is still held close. One of the most important aspects of a conspiracy, and really a necessary and sufficient one (!) is the silence of its members. If society (or whoever is the victim of the crimes of capitalism) is Kitty Genovese, here…

    And, let’s add some nuance: one way of keeping silent is to speak only in a guarded code. Enter: nonsensical expression.

    … er, is it fair to say the ills of the day are the result of a crime? Well, it seems clear from the perspective of the present poster and robot that we are all guilty as “Les Muets.” And won’t it take some kind of fantastic eschatological happening to make it all right again! So, we get our counterpart to the doom and gloom of the conspiracy-minded prophets: a messianic tale starring the working class! Of course, since the sin of humanity has been defined as just that–a global and impersonal thing–then we get salvation en masse. Dialectical symmetry necessitates it, er, aesthetic symmetry, one. So, the ancient dogmas look quaint? Well, what then is the answer to an ultimately successful planet-wide charade or conspiracy leading us to a material doom — perhaps even permanent erasure? What aesthetic or dialectic counterpart can counterbalance such a fantastically nightmarish cosmic gambit? What if we are successful in wiping ourselves out, I mean? So what? What makes this scream in the face of biological imperative humanly invalid? You mean, just because its long echoes won’t even be so much of a whispery whimper in the ears of a colossal, you know, Lovecraftian emptiness that will follow? Someone better posit ET on the quick! Who will be our witness to our ironic and beautiful calamity? I mean, if we are together crafting an amazing tragedy, we sure need someone to stumble on it among the sands. We deem to the future: our tragedy, lost.

    1. Late to the Party

      I guess I meant: “deed to the future.” OR “bequeath.” For some reason “deem” sounded right.

  26. Howard Beale IV

    Ex-MI Supreme Court Justice Hathaway sentenced to a Year and 1 day by the Feds for short-sale fraud:

    “Former Michigan Supreme Court Justice Diane Hathaway apologized for her actions in federal court Tuesday before she was sentenced to 12 months and one day in federal prison in a bank fraud case.

    “I stand before you a broken person who is ashamed and humiliated,” Hathaway told Judge John Corbett O’Meara before he rendered his sentence. “I am truly sorry for the decisions I made in my life that brought me here today.”

    Hathaway, who pleaded guilty in January to misleading her bank during a short sale of her Grosse Pointe Park home, also is to pay $90,000 in restitution and will spend two years on probation.

    Hathaway’s attorney, Steve Fishman, said the restitution would be paid before she left the U.S. District Court’s Eastern District in Ann Arbor on Tuesday afternoon. It is unclear where she will serve her sentence and when it will begin.

    O’Meara told the court he thought a great deal about the sentence before he rendered it.

    “I don’t believe Diane Hathaway will be back here or in any other court,” O’Meara said before sentencing.”

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    1. Chris Engel

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