AlterNet Readers' 10 Best Comments of the Week

Another week, another fine bunch of comments from the best online community on the net! Let's get to it.

We begin the week's selection with two very different views of Ted Daley's "Why Progressives Should Care About Human Destiny in Space." First up was rue, who said that while the sentiment was nice ...

… in the end, we have more important things to be spending our time and money on.

Although it may be true that those who have had the chance to see the earth from afar in person see the earth as a whole, it takes no stretch of the imagination to realize that as soon as people figure out how to exploit space exploration for the sake of a greasy buck, idealism will take a back seat as it always does.

How many kids could be fed with the money the US government spends on these trips to space? How many folks could have their health care taken care of?

This is not an anti-science rant - I believe science and exploration are important for the betterment of people in general. But let's have our priorities straight - from the moon, you can't see all the people starving.

Libertine saw it differently …

Earth is the only planet in the solar system capable of supporting life, human and otherwise, without artificial aid. Our solar system is part of the Orion Arm, a minor spiral arm of the Milky Way Galaxy, which is far from the galactic center. Though I'm certain there are other Earthlike planets capable of supporting human life in other planetary systems in our galaxy and in countless other galaxies, such planets are many light years away from us. They are effectively unreachable at our current level of technology ...

Planets capable of supporting life are a rare thing in our universe, and ours is suffering from years of pollution as indicated by global warming.

It is the birthplace and home of humanity; of every human being that has ever lived until the present time. We are all in the same boat together: Americans and Iraqis, liberals and conservatives, terrorists and pacifists, Christians, Muslims, Jews, Atheists, black, white and Asian, men and women, and every other category of human on Earth.

Viewed in this way, all the petty things that divide us and seem to matter so much to us in our short lives on this planet don't really amount to hill of beans in the long run. The sooner we all learn we're all in this together and cooperate to save our planet from destruction and stop concentrating on the minuscule things that divide us, the better off we'll be.

Before anything else, we are all citizens of Earth first.

We were kind of moved by that one.

Speaking of being sentimental, Col. Jackleg responded to the article "Fatigue Cripples U.S. Army in Iraq," by invoking the classic war anthem, "Over There" …

In 1917, George M. Cohan wrote the lyrics to this beloved song and it thrived through two world wars. Its inspiration at home, abroad and to the conscripts and volunteers was so notable that FDR awarded Cohan the Congressional Gold Medal in 1941. There was no fatigue in those days because there was a purpose to what was being done and it embraced more than Americans. There hasn't been a purpose since, and the world is paying a steep price for the consequences. There can be no song in defense of murder, crimes against humanity, lies, deceptions and greed, unless of course it is a dirge in response to a failed nation that not only perpetrated the crimes but also tired in the process of committing and abetting them.

From a sick society to a sick body -- it's a nice segue into the piece "Our Assumptions About What Causes Chronic Diseases Could Be Wrong." Sheena2u made a point with which we can't disagree: "We must stop poisoning ourselves and our planet" …

We have already greatly poisoned the planet. Many of our waters are unsafe. Our air is often unsafe to breathe. Our soils are becoming depleted of nutrients and over fertilized. Fertilizer and human waste pour into our oceans and many of our beaches and shores are not safe. Wildlife and our forests and oceans are in great peril. We must work harder to protect our oceans and our forests. We must do more to save the arctic ice caps and glaciers. We must end the wars now, and find a way to live in peace with one another before it is too late.

We must learn to live in harmony with nature. We have to stop living in a 19th century frame of mind, and as if we can continue to use coal and burn fossil fuels, pollute, wage war, tear down forests, etc. We must demand renewable energy and organic products. We must demand the immediate end to coal plants and coal mines, and stop cooking our planet. We must impeach and disempower those corrupt politicians who are leading us to certain destruction and ruin!

We must look ahead and stop thinking in terms of greed and denial and try to live sustainably, responsibly, and with common sense… We have to act now or all the civilizations of the earth will soon collapse.

Did we say it was all light and fluffy? No. And it didn't get much lighter with Vanja Petrovic's "The Toxic Chemistry of Everyday Products." After reading it, Sushi asked for some clarification …

What I never understood is why I have to pay more (much more) for untainted food. Chemicals cost money. Take a basic item and add costly chemicals…doesn't that add to the cost of the item? Why, then does leaving the chemical out and skipping the process of adding them cost me MORE money, not less? What's up with that?

I know that some chemicals prevent spoilage, but who wants to eat old chemicals in old food? It's not that hard to make your own from scratch. Give up a half hour of Seinfield re-runs and cut a few veggies and a chicken cutlet and throw it over some rice. Better than some slop from a factory loaded with coloring agents made from petroleum byproducts or dyes that make raw meat (normally grey) is dripping red to make you think it is "fresh".

Speaking of less-than-fresh gray meat, Karl Rove's resignation sparked lots of commentary. After reading Arianna's take, Urstrly wondered what it's going to take to get through to Americans …

Every time some egregious act of this administration is outed, I think, aha, now people will see what's been going on since GWB put his foot into the 2000 presidential race. What has happened, it seems to me, is that those of us who disagreed with Bush's qualifications for high office, with his collusion with the oil industry, with his trumped up reasons for going to war, with his blatant disregard of anyone poor or homosexual, with his contempt for the Constitution, with his substitution of right-wing Christianity for morality, etc. etc. are the ones deemed delusional. And Karl Rove gets the credit for this in large measure. When I reach out of my progressive cocoon, I am often stunned by the success with which people have been convinced that night is day, and it's all for our own good. Of course, to give credit where credit's due, he couldn't have done it without Fox News.

We know the feeling.

Speaking of reaching outside of progressive circles, there was a lot of response to Bob Moser's "Purple America: Can the DNC's 50-State Strategy Turn Red States Blue?" Drmflorida recalled his or her campaign experience and argued that the 50-state strategy was desperately needed…

In 2004, I sat on my hands through the torturously long period from the beginning of the primary campaigns until the national convention. "Can't afford to do too much too soon", "there is plenty of time", "the real campaign starts in July" is what I kept hearing. I repeatedly volunteered for inactive campaigns only to receive no replies.

I could and would have given 10-15 hours a week for the year before the election, but nobody was organized enough to use me. Ironically it reminded me of Dana Carvey's "Wouldn't be prudent" parody of George H. Bush during his downward spiral.

I finally heard from the Kerry campaign about a month before the election. Desperate to avoid the fate that befell us, I took 3 weeks off work and volunteered 12 hours a day running call centers for them. The campaign was being run by staffers from New York who didn't know where anything was and didn't understand the people they were trying to reach.

When it was all over, we packed everything down, I assume to wait another 4 years. I thought of my romanticized vision of the progressive socialist labor era, when organizing was 24x7x52, and when it was considered entertainment to go to a lecture hall and hear someone give a speech, much like the one excerpted in this article.

This is what we need. We need politics to be constant, fearless, and relevant. We need to disenfranchise the consultants and stop mincing words. We need to carefully heed the advise of the DLC, and then do the opposite. We need to remember how to win and have fun.

Amen. If drmflorida's advice worked out, we wouldn't be facing some of the problems we're staring at. One of those is the skyrocketing costs of basic foodstuffs, the subject of an article in our Corporate Accountability and Workplace special coverage area, and a blog-post this week. Responding to the post, thoughtcriminal had much to say about the issue. It's not just increased fuel costs or the other factors that are commonly discussed, s/he said -- it's market manipulation by Big Ag …

… market manipulation is a topic that US corporate media doesn't like to discuss - but that is the real reason for the corn price increase in Mexico. Mary Turck spells it out:

"The disastrous rise of tortilla prices in January has both short-term and long-term causes. The short-term cause, according to the government and the international grain companies, is increased U.S. demand for ethanol. That's a lie.

In January, corn sold for only $144 per ton in Chicago. In January, in Mexico City, corn prices rose to 3,500 pesos (approximately $319) per ton. The difference in prices between the two cities is just one more clue pointing to the role of market speculation in the price of both corn and tortillas. While factors such as increasing price of production inputs (diesel, gasoline products, chemical pesticides) and increased demand for ethanol play a role in higher international corn prices, January's sudden run-up in the price in Mexico was due to market manipulation by giant agro-industrial corporations."

This is all about "Truthiness" - if the corporate media repeats something often enough, more people will believe it. When reporters start repeating "the accepted truth", watch out!

We're not sure how that relates to high prices for chicken and eggs and frozen juice and all the rest, but when it comes to corn, we're convinced!

Grocery prices being a classic populist topic, that leads nicely into David Sirota's piece on Arkansas governor Mike Huckabee, "Democrats Beware: An Economic Populist Is Rising In the GOP's Presidential Primary." Catdad read it and then wondered whether it might be "too late for economic populism?"

Thanks to the "miracle" of conservative economic theory, the US economy has gone from creating high-quality manufactured goods to creating debt … debt that is largely held by nations like China, Japan and Saudi Arabia. We've liquidated vast swaths of our manufacturing sector in the name of higher stock prices… which is the ultimate moral good in our corporate state.

How are we going re-negotiate trade agreements with China now that they have a gun to our head in the form of one trillion in US Treasury notes that they hold? Last week China openly boasted that they would wreak havoc with the US dollar if [Washington] dared to try to change the current economic trading status between our nations. […]

Our nation's ruling elite have vowed to never put themselves in a vulnerable position as existed during the Hoover administration and the 30s economic collapse. "Free trade" is their ace in the hole to pummel the American worker and unions into submission by making it impossible for workers to fight back due to so much of the economy being liquidated to foreign markets.

NumberSix saw what was really behind another piece of public policy, this time Florida's "Shoot first" law, which Isaac-Davy Aaronson argued is a reflection of America's "Crazy Ideology of Preemption" ...

It's all about fear. The idea is to make everyone scared poopless of anything and everything. The proponents of said laws may quote the NRA, Knox, whomever, but the undercurrent to it is just this: "WE WANT YOU TO STAY SCARED."

It's a military tactic: Divide and conquer. If we are all packing clips, polishing the chrome, packing wad cutters, and yes, always looking over our shoulders, we won't notice the man behind the curtain laughing his ass off at our paranoia. We'll be too busy playing the OK Coral scenario to mind that these bastards are playing us, playing on our fear, using us. CNN will, yes, cover a few genuine shoot-outs, winner take nothing. Meanwhile, Uncle Sam cackles with evil glee.

Just another step towards tyranny, folks, nothing to see here.

Finally, "tyranny" leads us into the week's big story: How U.S. Interrogators Destroyed the Mind of Jose Padilla. Mizipi got all spiritual on us, and we appreciated it …

My name Ain't Earl …

But, I do believe in karma …

As a believer in science and a Creator of the Universe, I hope that Mr. Padilla has a reward coming to him for the misfortune bestowed upon him by the US Government. And all of those responsible for destroying the mind of a human being, a Child of the Universe, well, as eternity passes, karma will most likely take care of them.

There is a lot of "luck" - good luck and bad luck. One thing for sure, Bill O'Reilly, Rush Limbaugh, Karl Rove, et al will have something to be proud about: the destruction of an American citizen to justify their belief, "freedom is not free". And Buddha, Jesus, Pogo, et al will have someone to talk to in the cosmic conversation about love and compassion.

Guilty or not-guilty, no one should be subjected to the hatred that is so prevalent in the world today.

That's it for this week. Thanks for all of your comments. If you see a particularly great one in your travels next week, make sure to drop an e-mail to, or just report it.
ACLU By ACLUSponsored

Imagine you've forgotten once again the difference between a gorilla and a chimpanzee, so you do a quick Google image search of “gorilla." But instead of finding images of adorable animals, photos of a Black couple pop up.

Is this just a glitch in the algorithm? Or, is Google an ad company, not an information company, that's replicating the discrimination of the world it operates in? How can this discrimination be addressed and who is accountable for it?

“These platforms are encoded with racism," says UCLA professor and best-selling author of Algorithms of Oppression, Dr. Safiya Noble. “The logic is racist and sexist because it would allow for these kinds of false, misleading, kinds of results to come to the fore…There are unfortunately thousands of examples now of harm that comes from algorithmic discrimination."

On At Liberty this week, Dr. Noble joined us to discuss what she calls “algorithmic oppression," and what needs to be done to end this kind of bias and dismantle systemic racism in software, predictive analytics, search platforms, surveillance systems, and other technologies.

What you can do:
Take the pledge: Systemic Equality Agenda
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