March 31, 2013 archive

Anti-Capitalist Meetup: 31 March 2013 an ACM Introduction by Annieli

I have been thinking about how to introduce some of the methodologies we use in DK to augment the basic liberalism and progressivism necessary to produce more and better Democrats. This piece is intended to introduce some basic texts which for many might seem too simplistic and even heretical but are hopefully useful for those wanting to consider that many of the perspectives often reflected in DK have a sincere and authentic theoretical foundation.

I chose a recent diary by Kos on conservative understanding of the decline in bee populations to serve as an example of how an understanding of Marx can add to the interpretive strength of an already strong argument. The “light comes on” is not enlightenment in any earth-shaking sense but it is a reflection on the need to consider that there are preexisting social analysis methodologies that have made progressives more effective in guiding action and organizing resistance to the rise of RW power.

Buried way at the bottom of this piece on the increasing death rate of honey bees:

But Mr. Adee (the South Dakota owner of the nation’s largest beekeeping company), who said he had long scorned environmentalists’ hand-wringing about (pesticide use in crops), said he was starting to wonder whether they had a point.

Of the “environmentalist” label, Mr. Adee said: “I would have been insulted if you had called me that a few years ago. But what you would have called extreme – a light comes on, and you think, ‘These guys really have something. Maybe they were just ahead of the bell curve.'”

I’m going to do some stereotyping and assume that a South Dakota farmer who scorns “extremist” environmentalist is a Republican. It’s not much of a stretch. So like Sen. Rob Portman’s conversion on marriage equality because of his gay son, or Sen. Mark Kirk’s conversion on health care services to the less-wealthy because of his debilitating stroke, Adee decides that maybe the dirty fucking hippies are onto something when he, himself, is directly affected by unfettered degradation of our environment.

I emphasize the expression directly affected because it is important for acting in a way to understand Anti-Capitalism  This point of view recognizes that there are changes in consciousness, the understanding that a tension between beliefs and reality has been heightened and proven transformative. In this diary Kos discusses the contradiction of GOP ideology in confronting the complex yet revelatory incidence of bee death as a sign of impending ecological disaster. This serves as a useful way to provide a foundation to discuss the theories necessary to understand a Marxist position on the need to transform the present relations of production.

But many beekeepers suspect the biggest culprit is the growing soup of pesticides, fungicides and herbicides that are used to control pests. While each substance has been certified, there has been less study of their combined effects. Nor, many critics say, have scientists sufficiently studied the impact of neonicotinoids, the nicotine-derived pesticide that European regulators implicate in bee deaths. The explosive growth of neonicotinoids since 2005 has roughly tracked rising bee deaths. Neonics, as farmers call them, are applied in smaller doses than older pesticides. They are systemic pesticides, often embedded in seeds so that the plant itself carries the chemical that kills insects that feed on it.

This suspicion is the simple result of an economy driven by capitalist desire to systematically maximize profit that also ignores the externalities connected to the use of technologies that also harm the environment and in the long-run destroy even the industry itself. American beekeeping and honey production is both hobby-farm, small scale cottage industry and large-scale agribusiness. In other countries it can be even barely organized gathering. Ultimately change comes from knowledge and its productive application, but a knowledge that is crucially aware of direct effects as critical practices.

I have chosen two elementary texts on Marx to give readers an introduction that is often distorted by cold-war anti-communist reactionaries that one finds in the Marx 101 search on the internet, although Brad DeLong’s Understanding Marx lecture is a good one. I have chosen Peter Singer’s. Marx: A Very Short Introduction (2000) and Terry Eagleton’s Why Marx Was Right (2011). This is not a book review, although I would hope that these two accessible texts might appeal even to the less doctrinaire Kossack. Please come below the squiggle to contribute to the discussion of the basics.

NCAA Women’s Basketball Tournament 2013: Day 6, Baylor v. Louisville


Seed Score Team Record Seed Score Team Record Region
(1) 85 Baylor 34-1 (8) 47 Florida State 23-10 Midwest
(4) 63 Purdue 25-9 * (5) 76 Louisville 26-8 Midwest


Time Network Seed Team Record Seed Team Record Region
6:30 ESPN (1) Baylor 34-1 (5) Louisville 26-8 Midwest

NCAA Women’s Basketball Tournament 2013: Tennessee v. Oklahoma


Seed Score Team Record Seed Score Team Record Region
(2) 68 Tennessee 26-7 (10) 52 Creighton 25-8 Midwest
(3) 72 UCLA 26-8 85 * (6) Oklahoma 24-10 Midwest


Time Network Seed Team Record Seed Team Record Region
4:30 ESPN (2) Tennessee 26-7 (6) Oklahoma 24-10 Midwest

NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament 2013: Regional Final Midwest


Seed Score Team Record Seed Score Team Record Region
(1) 77 Louisville 32-5 (12) 69 Oregon 28-9 Midwest
(2) 71 Duke 28-4 (3) 61 Michigan State 27-9 Midwest


Time Network Seed Team Record Seed Team Record Region
5:05 CBS (1) Louisville 32-5 (2) Duke 28-4 Midwest

NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament 2013: Regional Final South


Seed Score Team Record Seed Score Team Record Region
(3) 62 Florida 29-7 (15) 50 Florida Gulf Coast 26-11 South
(1) 85 Kansas 31-6 * (4) 87 Michigan 29-7 South


Time Network Seed Team Record Seed Team Record Region
2:20 CBS (3) Florida 29-7 (4) Michigan 29-7 South

NCAA Women’s Basketball Tournament 2013: Day 6, Duke v. Nebraska


Seed Score Team Record Seed Score Team Record Region
(2) 68 Duke 31-2 (7) 59 Oklahoma State 22-11 South
(3) 63 Texas A&M 25-10 * (6) 74 Nebraska 25-8 South


Time Network Seed Team Record Seed Team Record Region
2:30 ESPN (2) Duke 31-2 (6) Nebraska 25-8 South

NCAA Women’s Basketball Tournament 2013: Day 6, Notre Dame v. Kansas


Seed Score Team Record Seed Score Team Record Region
(1) 74 Notre Dame 33-1 (9) 57 Iowa 21-13 South
(4) 69 South Carolina 25-6 * (12) 74 Kansas 20-13 South


Time Network Seed Team Record Seed Team Record Region
noon ESPN (1) Notre Dame 33-1 (12) Kansas 20-13 South


On This Day In History March 31

Cross posted from The Stars Hollow Gazette

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.

March 31 is the 90th day of the year (91st in leap years) in the Gregorian calendar. There are 275 days remaining until the end of the year.

On this day in 1776, future first lady Abigail Adams writes to her husband urging him to “remember the ladies” when drafting a new “code of laws” for the fledgling nation.

While John Adams participated in the Continental Congress in Philadelphia, Abigail remained at their home in Braintree, Massachusetts, managing their daily affairs in his absence. At the same time that Adams was preparing to publish his “Thoughts on Government” essay, which outlined proposed political philosophy and structures for the new nation, Abigail pondered if and how the rights of women would be addressed in an American constitution.

Women’s rights

Adams was an advocate of married women’s property rights and more opportunities for women, particularly in the field of education. Women, she believed, should not submit to laws not made in their interest, nor should they be content with the simple role of being companions to their husbands. They should educate themselves and thus be recognized for their intellectual capabilities, so they could guide and influence the lives of their children and husbands. She is known for her March 1776 letter to John and the Continental Congress, requesting that they, “…remember the ladies, and be more generous and favorable to them than your ancestors. Do not put such unlimited power into the hands of the Husbands. Remember all Men would be tyrants if they could. If particular care and attention is not paid to the Ladies we are determined to foment a Rebellion, and will not hold ourselves bound by any Laws in which we have no voice, or Representation.

John declined Abigail’s “extraordinary code of laws,” but acknowledged to Abigail, “We have only the name of masters, and rather than give up this, which would completely subject us to the despotism of the petticoat, I hope General Washington and all our brave heroes would fight.”

Braintree March 31, 1776

   Tho we felicitate ourselves, we sympathize with those who are trembling least the Lot of Boston should be theirs. But they cannot be in similar circumstances unless pusilanimity and cowardise should take possession of them. They have time and warning given them to see the Evil and shun it. I long to hear that you have declared an independancy and by the way in the new Code of Laws which I suppose it will be necessary for you to make I desire you would Remember the Ladies, and be more generous and favourable to them than your ancestors. Do not put such unlimited power into the hands of the Husbands. Remember all Men would be tyrants if they could. If perticuliar care and attention is not paid to the Laidies we are determined to foment a Rebelion, and will not hold ourselves bound by any Laws in which we have no voice, or Representation.

   That your Sex are Naturally Tyrannical is a Truth so thoroughly established as to admit of no dispute, but such of you as wish to be happy willingly give up the harsh title of Master for the more tender and endearing one of Friend. Why then, not put it out of the power of the vicious and the Lawless to use us with cruelty and indignity with impunity. Men of Sense in all Ages abhor those customs which treat us only as the vassals of your Sex. Regard us then as Beings placed by providence under your protection and in immitation of the Supreem Being make use of that power only for our happiness.

Six In The Morning

On Sunday

Libya’s south teeters toward chaos – and militant extremists

Libya’s long-neglected, isolated southern region has grown more lawless since the fall of Moammar Kadafi. Only ill-trained tribal militias hold Islamist extremists at bay.

By Jeffrey Fleishman, Los Angeles Times

SABHA, Libya – Their fatigues don’t match and their pickup has no windshield. Their antiaircraft gun, clogged with grit, is perched between a refugee camp and ripped market tents scattered over an ancient caravan route. But the tribesmen keep their rifles cocked and eyes fixed on a terrain of scouring light where the oasis succumbs to desert.

“If we leave this outpost the Islamist militants will come and use Libya as a base. We can’t let that happen,” said Zakaria Ali Krayem, the oldest among the Tabu warriors. “But the government hasn’t paid us in 14 months. They won’t even give us money to buy needles to mend our uniforms.”

Sunday’s Headlines:

Nato alarm over Afghan army crisis: loss of recruits threatens security as handover looms

Egyptian comic arrested for insulting president

North Korea feels it is ‘being provoked’

Algeria sanctions imam union to stem Salafist influence

The speeches written but never given

Late Night Karaoke

What We Now Know

As you know Chris Hayes will be hosting a new MSNBC show beginning April 1 at 8 PM EDT that he promises will be the same format as Up. Up’s new host Steve Carnacki takes over as the Saturday and Sunday host of the new “Up with Steve Carnacki” on April 13. This Sunday and next the best segments of the last two years will be aired.

Best of ‘Up w/ Chris Hayes’: SOPA and the future of the Internet

by Meredith Clark, Up with Chris Hayes

Before his January suicide, Aaron Swartz was a leader in the fight against the Stop Online Piracy Act, or SOPA.  The groups with which Swartz worked-Demand Progress, the Electronic Frontier Foundation, and many others-continue to fight for information transparency and reforms to the laws currently used to prosecute individuals for alleged crimes committed online.

Swartz’ death shifted debate from piracy and regulation to the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act and the government’s attitude towards what it deems cybercrime, and hackers continue to be arrested and prosecuted. On March 26, the Justice Department announced that it had arrested a Wisconsin man for his alleged involvement in a Dedicated Denial of Service attack on two websites owned by Koch Industries. This arrest comes only a week after another hacker, Andrew Auernheimer, was sentenced to more than three years in prison for exposing a security hole in AT&T’s iPad user database.

Cases like these and actions like those of Operation KnightSec, the group of hackers who leaked information about the Steubenville rape investigation are sure to become more common, which means that over the issues SOPA raised will surface again.

Debating Sopa: January 15, 2012

Chris leads a debate on the controversial Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) with NBC Universal Executive Vice President and General council Richard Cotton; Reddit co-founder Alexis Ohanian; former Rep. Joe Sestak (D-PA); and former lobbyist Jack Abramoff.

SOPA is gone but it’s ugly twin is back. Meet the “Patriot Act of the Internet“, the Cyber Intelligence Sharing and Protection Act (CISPA) which the House is expected to vote on in mid-April:

The House is expected to vote on a set of cybersecurity-focused bills in mid-April. One of those bills would include the Cyber Intelligence Sharing and Protection Act (CISPA) by Mike Rogers (R-Mich.) and Rep. Dutch Ruppersberger (D-Md.), which is aimed at removing the legal hurdles that prevent companies from sharing information about cyber threats with the government.

The bill boasts support from a broad swath of industry sectors – including the telecommunications, banking and tech industries – but has stoked criticism from privacy and civil liberties groups.

Privacy advocates charge that CISPA lacks sufficient privacy protections for people’s personal data and would increase the pool of Americans’ electronic communications that flow to the intelligence community, including the secretive National Security Agency.

The bill passed the House last spring but went untouched in the Senate, largely because it was working on its own comprehensive measure.

CISPA’s Problem Isn’t Bad PR, It’s Bad Privacy

by  Robyn Greene, Washington Legislative Office of the ACLU

Representative Mike Rogers (R-MI) made the argument last week that the privacy community’s significant concerns with CISPA, the privacy-busting cybersecurity bill, don’t stem from actual problems with the bill language, but rather from a misunderstanding of the bill itself. Speaking on behalf of himself and his co-sponsor, Representative Dutch Ruppersberger (D-MD), he told The Hill, “We feel that the bill clearly deals with privacy, that the checks and balances are there, but [we] know there’s still a perception and we’re still trying to deal with that.”  

The ACLU, along with a coalition of 41 privacy and civil liberties groups, are very concerned about the real-world impact that the authorities proposed in CISPA could have on Americans’ privacy and civil liberties. President Obama, along with top administration officials including Department of Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano, have echoed many of our concerns. CISPA, in its current form (pdf):    

  • Creates an exception to all privacy laws to allow companies to share our personal information, including internet records and the content of emails, with the government and other companies, for cybersecurity purposes;
  • Permits our private information to be shared with any government agency, like the NSA or the Department of Defense ‘s Cyber Command;
  • Fails to require the protection of Americans’ personally identifiable information (PII), despite repeated statements by the private sector that it doesn’t want or need to share PII;
  • Once shared with the government, allows our information to be used for non-cybersecurity “national security” purposes – an overbroad “catch-all” phrase that can mean almost anything;
  • Immunizes companies from criminal or civil liability, even after an egregious breach of privacy;
  • Fails to implement adequate transparency and oversight mechanisms.

In a recent article in Wired, Chris Finan, former White House director for cybersecurity, urged Congress to fix CISPA by amending the bill so as to require companies to strip their customers’ PII before sharing it with the government; restrict information sharing to civilian agencies; restrict the further dissemination and use of information to cybersecurity purposes; place reasonable limits on companies’ liability protections; and establish a non-profit to act as an “independent ‘watchdog'”  over any information sharing program to enhance oversight and transparency.

It will would be great if Congress amended CISPA to address all of our privacy concerns, but it’s hard to hold out hope for sufficient changes so long as its chief sponsor thinks that it doesn’t have a privacy problem so much as a PR problem. Everyone, from the privacy community to the president, agrees that CISPA is bad on privacy – the problem isn’t our perception.

Violating Our Privacy Is Not An Option

Sign this petition and send Congress a message that our rights are not negotiable.

For Aaron and for us.