06/30/2013 archive

Anti-Capitalist Meet-Up: 30 June 2013 A Ghost in a Machine walks the Globe by Annieli

If one can claim that a virtual economy offers increased possibility for revolutionary political change, that change should be measured against more material forms of analysis rather than treating information commodities as epiphenomenal. The tenuous connection between correlation and causation much like the meme of “Voodoo Economics” was treated more lightly and less seriously in a 2010 Bruce Watson piece on zombies and vampires as seasonally or cyclically symptomatic of a national economy:

there appears to be a loose connection between recession cycles and monster movies: zombie films tend to be more popular during boom times, while vampire flicks are ascendant when the economy is bad. As I wrote at the time, this makes a certain sort of symbolic sense: after all, as unthinking consumers, zombies reflect the tone of high-consumption boom times. The more melancholic vampires, on the other hand, suggest buyer’s remorse. While the zombie/vampire recession cycle didn’t always hold true, I found that it had a few interesting connections to the economy. For example, for most of the Reagan spend-till-you-drop 1980’s, zombie films dominated movie theaters. In fact, vampire movies’ only brief moment of ascendence in the decade was in 1987-1988, when a stock market tumble sent the economy into recession. Similarly, in 1991 and 2001, vampire films spiked and zombie films fell behind as recessions struck.

Aside from the doomsday preppers and faux survivalists in Dollywood and Hollywood invoking the fear of a zombie apocalypse as signs of an impending breakdown of urban society double-coded as racism, vampires and zombies can be differentiated by information while serving as cultural commodities in mass media. Vampires are asymmetric information commodities since in media narratives their representations appear conventional at first, whereas zombies are symmetric in that we know them instantly by their appearance. In either case they represent a pathological tipping point where fear trumps rationality and wooden stakes, garlic, holy water and shotguns make their appearance in contemporary film.

In a material context, such contemporary monsters represent the same class fears represented by European revolution in the Nineteenth Century not unlike the colonizers’ fears of the colonized or the contemporary anti-immigrant discourse where Americans ignore the labor history of the bracero and the coolie as invisible, informal Gastarbeiter.

A spectre is haunting Europe – the spectre of communism. All the powers of old Europe have entered into a holy alliance to exorcise this spectre

Marx’s invocation becomes more or less ironic in the post-Soviet period

Spectres de Marx: l’état de la dette, le travail du deuil et la nouvelle Internationale is a 1993 book by French philosopher Jacques Derrida The title Spectres of Marx is an allusion to Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels’ statement at the beginning of The Communist Manifesto that a “spectre [is] haunting Europe.” For Derrida, the spirit of Marx is even more relevant now since the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989 and the demise of communism. With its death the spectre of communism begins to make visits on the earth. Derrida seeks to do the work of inheriting from Marx, that is, not communism, but of the philosophy of responsibility, and of Marx’s spirit of radical critique.

The philosophy of responsibility may be best represented in the problematic role of information and national security in a virtual surveillance state where Ed Snowden may be a vampire presently in the undead transit lounge of a Russian airport, avoiding the cleansing hot light of sunshine law. The disclosure of information asymmetrically held by a democratic state committed to a public sphere operates in contradiction to its multinational, geopolitical obligations.

Capital is dead labour, that, vampire-like, only lives by sucking living labour, and lives the more, the more labour it sucks. The time during which the labourer works, is the time during which the capitalist consumes the labour-power he has purchased of him. [4] If the labourer consumes his disposable time for himself, he robs the capitalist Link

Virtuality has conditioned all forms of labour to some degree, creating different classes of worker, set against each other, not conscious of the web of virtuality that links them all into a single multitude. That unity is virtual in one sense – a potential that could be activated by virtuality in another sense, the resources of the net.

Come below the squiggle for more “mysterious forces or powers that govern the world and the lives of those who reside within it, but also a range of artistic forms that function in conjunction with these vodun (sic) energies.”

Rant of the Week: Stephen Colbert, The Supreme Court Rules on DOMA

The Supreme Court Rules on DOMA

Following the Supreme Court’s DOMA ruling, traditional marriage is as defenseless as a freshman frat pledge about to go through the spanking machine.

Civil Disobedience. NSA & Lesser Evilism.

If you are ever traveling on route 9 east through the New Hampshire border town of Chesterfield, and you’re not stuck behind some slow poke (me), watch your speed.  The limit changes from 35 to 45 then to 55 and back again to 35 just about every quarter mile or so. The local police have a ball targeting vehicles with out of state tags.

Whenever I’m traveling in the area, the way I fight back is by consistently traveling 5 miles an hour UNDER the speed limit. They can’t give me a speeding ticket. AND they can’t give anyone traveling behind me a ticket either.

Screw You Chesterfield cops!

On a similar note:

(h/t ek –More Video)

I encourage everyone to support Operation: Everyone Talk Like A Terrorist All The Time. You may think I’m just kidding. But I am kidding on the square.

Like the video says:

During an election candidates pretend not to be assholes, then when they get the job they reveal they’ve actually been a complete assholes the entire time. Just look at the people we’re expected to choose from in 2016. Do we NOT think that they are all going to be giant assholes?…

The only way to fight back against our country’s excessive wire tapping & data mining is to make it irrelevant.

Phone calls. Emails. Text messages as routine as grocery lists.

Think of it as Talk like a Pirate Day. Only replace Pirate with Terrorist and Day with All The Time.

On This Day In History June 30

This is your morning Open Thread. Pour your favorite beverage and review the past and comment on the future.

Find the past “On This Day in History” here.

Click on images to enlarge.

June 30 is the 181st day of the year(182nd in leap years) in the Gregorian calendar. There are 184 days remaining until the end of the year.

On this day in 1986, the U.S. Supreme Court rules in Bowers v. Hardwick that states can outlaw homosexual acts between consenting adults.

Bowers v. Hardwick, upheld the constitutionality of a Georgia sodomy law criminalizing oral and anal sex in private between consenting adults when applied to homosexuals. Seventeen years after Bowers v. Hardwick, the Supreme Court directly overruled the decision in Lawrence v. Texas (2003), and held that such laws are unconstitutional. In overruling Bowers v. Hardwick, the 2003 Court stated that “Bowers was not correct when it was decided, and it is not correct today.”

Concurrences and dissents

The short concurring opinion by Chief Justice Warren E. Burger emphasized historical negative attitudes toward homosexual sex, quoting Sir William Blackstone‘s characterization of sodomy as “a crime not fit to be named.” Burger concluded, “To hold that the act of homosexual sodomy is somehow protected as a fundamental right would be to cast aside millennia of moral teaching.”

Opponents of sodomy laws criticized Bowers not only for its result but also because of the Court’s dismissive treatment of the liberty and privacy interests of gay men and lesbians. A sharply worded dissenting opinion by Justice Harry Blackmun attacked the majority opinion as having an “almost obsessive focus on homosexual activity.” Justice Blackmun suggested that “(o)nly the most willful blindness could obscure the fact that sexual intimacy is ‘a sensitive, key relationship of human existence, central to family life, community welfare, and the development of human personality.'” (Ironically quoting from the opinion by Chief Justice Burger in Paris Adult Theatre I v. Slaton which held that obscene films are not constitutionally protected)

Blackmun revealed in a 1995 oral history with Harold Koh that his dissent in Bowers v. Hardwick was written primarily by openly gay Pam Karlan (then a law clerk for Blackmun, and now professor of law at Stanford Law School). Blackmun said of the dissent; “[K]arlan did a lot of very effective writing, and I owe a lot to her and her ability in getting that dissent out. She felt very strongly about it, and I think is correct in her approach to it. I think the dissent is correct.”

Lewis Powell was considered the deciding vote during the case. He had initially voted to strike down the law but changed his mind after a few days. In a concurring opinion, Powell voiced doubts about the compatibility of Georgia’s law with the Eighth Amendment as it related to the prison sentence for conviction, but joined the majority opinion upholding the law against a substantive due process attack. It has been argued that Powell’s decision to uphold the law was influenced by the fact that he believed he had never known any homosexuals, unaware that one of his own law clerks was gay. In 1990, three years after retiring from the Court, Powell told a group of New York University law students that he considered his opinion in Bowers was an error. “I do think it was inconsistent in a general way with Roe. When I had the opportunity to reread the opinions a few months later I thought the dissent had the better of the arguments.” However, Powell believed that the case was one of little importance and spent only thirty minutes thinking about it.


Bowers was decided at a time when the court’s privacy jurisprudence, and in particular the right to abortion recognized in Roe v. Wade, 410 U.S. 113 (1973), had come under heavy criticism and was in doubt. In this historical context, Bowers signaled a reluctance by the then-members of the Court to recognize a general constitutional right to privacy or to extend such a right further than they already had.

State sodomy laws were seldom enforced against private consensual conduct in the decades following the decision, but the Bowers decision was frequently cited in opposition to gay rights programs. The Georgia law upheld in Bowers forbade oral sex and anal sex whether engaged in by people of the same sex or different sexes, but Justice White’s decision was restricted to homosexual sex. “The only claim properly before the Court, therefore, is Hardwick’s challenge to the Georgia statute as applied to consensual homosexual sodomy. We express no opinion on the constitutionality of the Georgia statute as applied to other acts of sodomy.”

In the years after Bowers was decided, several state legislatures repealed their sodomy laws. In addition, a number of state courts invalidated sodomy laws under privacy or other provisions of their state constitutions. The same sodomy law that was upheld in Bowers was struck down by the Georgia Supreme Court under the Georgia state constitution in the case of Powell v. State, 270 Ga. 327 (1998).

The remaining state sodomy laws in the U.S. were invalidated, insofar as they applied to private consensual conduct among adults, in the Supreme Court case of Lawrence v. Texas 539 U.S. 558 (2003). Justice Anthony Kennedy wrote the majority opinion in Lawrence, ruling that Texas’ state sodomy law was unconstitutional under the Fourteenth Amendment’s due process clause (adult consensual sexual intimacy in ones’ home is a vital interest in liberty and privacy protected by the Due Process Clause). Lawrence explicitly overturned Bowers, with Kennedy writing “Bowers was not correct when it was decided, and it is not correct today. It ought not to remain binding precedent. Bowers v. Hardwick should be and now is overruled.”

Le Tour 2013: Stage 2

It didn’t really happen after all.

Tour de France 2013: chaos and crashes mark disastrous first stage

Sean Ingle, The Observer

Saturday 29 June 2013 12.33 EDT

It was supposed to be the day when Mark Cavendish wriggled into the Tour de France’s famous yellow jersey for the first time. Instead it will be remembered for an Orica GreenEdge team bus wedged under the finish line and a spectacular crash with six kilometres remaining that took out half the peloton.

With the driver trying – and failing – to extricate the bus, before throwing his hands in front of his eyes as if desperately hoping to wish his worries away, Tour organisers frantically switched the finish to the three-kilometre line down the road. Moments later the bus started reversing – and so did the organisers, who switched the finish back to its original spot near Bastia beach. It was a decision that, in the words of Cavendish, led to “carnage”.

With the peloton going at more than 40mph, Cavendish’s Omega Pharma-Quickstep team-mate Tony Martin appeared to buckle suddenly, and as his bike jumped and skipped and then slipped from under him several riders were sent flying – including Team Sky’s Geraint Thomas. Despite Thomas doing a passable impression of Superman he was cleared to race on Sunday after hospital x-rays showed no damage.

Because of the confusion, everyone was given the same finishing time as the winner, the German Marcel Kittel. That, however, was scant consolation for Cavendish, who blamed the organisers for causing the chaos with their late switch. “We were hearing in the radios with 5k to go the finish was in 2k,” he said. “Then a kilometre later, it’s at the finish. It was carnage. I’m lucky I didn’t come down. Some of my team-mates are a lot worse.”

Martin, the world time-trial champion, later lost consciousness twice on the team bus and was reported to have widespread abrasions. Even though a brain scan came back clear the chances of him participating in the second stage from Bastia to Ajaccio must be slim.

Still having trouble, more after Formula One.

Punting the Pundits: Sunday Preview Edition

Punting the Punditsis an Open Thread. It is a selection of editorials and opinions from around the news medium and the internet blogs. The intent is to provide a forum for your reactions and opinions, not just to the opinions presented, but to what ever you find important.

Thanks to ek hornbeck, click on the link and you can access all the past “Punting the Pundits”.

Follow us on Twitter @StarsHollowGzt

The Sunday Talking Heads:

Up with Steve Kornacki: This Sunday’s guests are not listed at this time.

This Week with George Stephanopolis: On “This Week“, an exclusive interview with Julian Assange;  Human Rights Campaign President Chad Griffin and National Organization for Marriage President Brian Brown debate the future of same sex marriage; and Texas State Sen. Wendy Davis.

At the political roundtable are: ABC News Political Analyst and Special Correspondent Matthew Dowd; ABC News Anchor and Chief Foreign Correspondent Terry Moran, who covers the Supreme Court for ABC News; Rep. Donna F. Edwards, D-Md.; and Wall Street Journal columnist Peggy Noonan.

Face the Nation with Bob Schieffer: Mr. Schieffer’s guests are Prop 8 Plaintiff’s Attorney Ted Olson; Tony Perkins, Family Research Council; Former NSA/CIA Director Gen. Michael Hayden; and Texas State Sen. Wendy Davis (D).

Sitting at the roundtable are: Michael Gerson, columnist for The Washington Post; Benjamin Jealous, president of the NAACP; Lehigh University Prof. James Peterson; Fernando Espuelas, Univision; and Jan Crawford, CBS News Chief Legal Correspondent.

The Chris Matthews Show: On this Sunday’s panel are Chuck Todd, NBC News Chief White House Correspondent; Katty Kay, BBC Washington Correspondent; Kelly O’Donnell, NBC News Capitol Hill Correspondent and David Ignatius, The Washington Post Columnist.

Meet the Press with David Gregory: On this Sunday’s MTP the guests are: House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA); Texas State Sen. Wendy Davis (D); and Prop 8 Plaintiff’s Attorney Ted Olson.

At the political roundtable: MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow; chairman of the Faith and Freedom Coalition, Ralph Reed; author and professor at Georgetown University, Michael Eric Dyson; President of the Heritage Foundation, Fmr. Sen. Jim DeMint; and NBC’s Pete Williams.

State of the Union with Candy Crowley: Ms. Crowley’s guests are;  Prop 8 Plaintiff’s Attorney David Boies; John Eastman, Chairman of the National Organization for Marriage;  Rep. Bob Goodlatte (R-VA); Rep. Luis Gutierrez (R-IL).

On her discussion panel are: New York Times Magazine Chief Political Correspondent Matt Bai:, The Root Contributing Editor Corey Dade; Fmr. Sen. George Allen (R-VA) and democratic strategist Hilary Rosen.

Formula One 2013: Silverstone

Let me start out by saying this is an odd weekend, what with the start of Le Tour and all.  Silverstone takes a decided back seat in coverage by its new network, NBCSports, and Qualifying was on tape delay while the race itself moves to CNBC (a good fit actually).

It is the debut of the new construction Pirellis and fiddly aero bits from the wind tunnel wonks.  The goal is to have the minimum amount of down force on the faster tracks.

On offer are the Hards and Mediums.  As it turns out all Pirelli has done is slap on some stronger glue.  NO Kevlar!  Perez suffered a spectacular delamination in practice but that was just a sidewall puncture so not a big deal (hmm…).

Van der Garde qualified 21st but was penalised five grid spots for causing a collision at the previous round.  di Resta qualified 5th but excluded for underweight car.  Allowed to start from back of grid.

The BIG news is that Mark Webber has had it and is leaving Formula One and Ricciardo is ready to fill his shoes.

My personal opinion is that drivers don’t matter as much as the cars (though I acknowledge Alonso is an effective counter-argument in that he always drives better than his iron).

I meant to write more but my machine is steadily deteriorating under the noted Flash Player failure and I’ve had to devote considerable time to upgrades and tweaking.  Sigh, always at periods of great stress. I’ll try to update as we move along.

Six In The Morning

On Sunday

Thousands gather for rival rallies in Egypt

Pro- and anti-government protesters converge in Cairo on first anniversary of inauguration of Mohamed Morsi.

Gregg Carlstrom Last Modified: 30 Jun 2013 07:13

Egypt braced for mass protests on Sunday as pro- and anti-government protesters gathered in the capital on the first anniversary of the inauguration of country’s first democratically elected president.

Thousands of people opposed to President Mohamed Morsi have already gathered in Cairo’s Tahrir Square calling for him to resign, while the president’s supporters have vowed to defend his legitimacy to the end, leading to fears of confrontation.

Morsi supporters held their own rally outside a Cairo mosque on Friday, an effort to preempt Sunday’s demonstrations, and thousands of them are holding an open-ended sit-in.

The anti-Morsi protests are being organised by a grassroots campaign calling itself Tamarod, meaning “rebellion” or “insubordination”, which claims to have collected signatures from 22 million Egyptians demanding the president’s ouster.

Sunday’s Headlines:

The water is running out in Gaza: Humanitarian catastrophe looms as territory’s only aquifer fails

Attacks from America: NSA Spied on European Union Offices

Credible reports that Nigerian troops killed civilians: commission

Serbia gets green light to negotiate entry to European Union

Mummies reveal ancient nicotine habit

What We Now Know

On this week’s segment of “what we know now” Up host Steve Kornacki discusses what they have learned with guests: Joan Walsh, contributor to Salon.com and MSNBC: Perry Bacon, The Grio; Michael Tomasky, Newsweek and The Daily Beast; and Molly Ball, The Atlantic.

William Hathaway, Senator From Maine, Dies at 89

by Douglas Martin, The New York Times

William D. Hathaway, a Democratic politician whose election to the United States Senate from Maine in 1972 ended the career of his Republican opponent, Margaret Chase Smith, the first woman elected to both houses of Congress, died on Monday at his home in McLean, Va. He was 89. [..]

Soon after his election, Senator Hathaway, a liberal, received a letter from a young Maine woman complaining that she had been rejected by the United States Military Academy at West Point, N.Y., because she was female. He introduced legislation that led to the admission of women at West Point and other military academies in 1976.

In 1973, he joined two other Democrats, Thomas F. Eagleton of Missouri and Gaylord Nelson of Wisconsin, as the only senators to oppose Nixon’s nomination of Representative Gerald R. Ford, the Republican House leader, to be vice president. He said he was concerned that the country would eventually have as its president a man appointed by a president under the cloud of possible impeachment – which is what happened.

Rick Santorum & EchoLight Studios: Former Presidential Candidate Making Faith-Based Movies

from The Huffington Post

Rick Santorum has picked up a new career. The 55-year-old politician is now the CEO of Echolight Studios, a faith-based film company. [..]  

“Many of you have heard me talk about that if we are going to make a positive impact on our country’s cultural challenges, we have to do it by reaching the masses often through entertainment,” Santorum said in a release. “For too long, Hollywood has had a lock on influencing the youth of this country with a flawed message that goes against our values. Now, we can change that.”

GOP’s Push to Woo Female Candidates, Voters

by Shushannah Walshe, ABC News

The RNC, joined by the National Republican Congressional Committee, Republican Governors Association, National Republican Senatorial Committee, the Republican State Leadership Conference, and the College Republican National Committee, launched “Women on the Right Unite” which will oversee two other initiatives announced to encourage conservative women to run for higher office and nurture them once they are there, as well as getting more women involved in conservative politics.

Nancy Pelosi On Michele Bachmann DOMA Remarks: ‘Who Cares?’

from The Huffington Post

It took Nancy Pelosi just two words on Wednesday to take Michele Bachmann down a notch.

The House minority leader was asked during a press conference what she thought of Bachmann’s intense denunciation earlier in the day of the Supreme Court’s historic rulings in favor of gay marriage. She replied with a shrug:

“Who cares?”