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Oct 18 2014

The Breakfast Club (Chocolate and Flowers)

breakfast beers photo breakfastbeers.jpgSo, Romanticism.  I’m conflicted.

In some ways it’s like admitting you have a sick fascination for fascism (which is by the way the political movement most closely associated with the intellectual impulse).

Romanticism (also the Romantic era or the Romantic period) was an artistic, literary, and intellectual movement that originated in Europe toward the end of the 18th century and in most areas was at its peak in the approximate period from 1800 to 1850. Partly a reaction to the Industrial Revolution, it was also a revolt against the aristocratic social and political norms of the Age of Enlightenment and a reaction against the scientific rationalization of nature. It was embodied most strongly in the visual arts, music, and literature, but had a major impact on historiography, education and the natural sciences. Its effect on politics was considerable and complex; while for much of the peak Romantic period it was associated with liberalism and radicalism, its long-term effect on the growth of nationalism was probably more significant.

The movement validated intense emotion as an authentic source of aesthetic experience, placing new emphasis on such emotions as apprehension, horror and terror, and awe-especially that which is experienced in confronting the sublimity of untamed nature and its picturesque qualities: both new aesthetic categories. It elevated folk art and ancient custom to a noble status, made spontaneity a desirable characteristic (as in the musical impromptu), and argued for a natural epistemology of human activities, as conditioned by nature in the form of language and customary usage. Romanticism reached beyond the rational and Classicist ideal models to raise a revived medievalism and elements of art and narrative perceived to be authentically medieval in an attempt to escape the confines of population growth, urban sprawl, and industrialism.

Enlightenment is too sterile and demanding.  The raw reductionism of rationality leads directly to a mundane Midlands mindset of grinding machination.  Creativity and animal passion replaced with cogwheels of clockwork conformity.  How is an artist to express themselves by appealing emotionally to the audience within the rigid formality of classical conventions?

Silly.  With more cowbells of course.

Yeah Romantic Music is the skull thumping big hair skinhead (part of it is ignoring the cacaphony of cognitive dissonance and instead succumbing to volume of environmental noise and pressure of your contemporaries) pierced tattoo sporting rebellious child of “art” that became instead the ironically normal bastard of spiritual sanctity until displaced by the truly nerdy in a snot sleeved glasses pushing tartan flannel shirt kind of way by the self-awareness of modernist (have I mentioned I’m in therapy?), post-modernist (therapy cures nothing and I need the eggs), and contemporary (without chemicals life itself would be impossible) environment.

Have I mentioned I’m into Techno?

I wanna tell you ’bout Texas Radio and the Big Beat

Comes out of the Virginia swamps

Cool and slow with plenty of precision

With a back beat narrow and hard to master

No eternal reward will forgive us now for wasting the dawn.

In addition to inspiring Hitler and Francis Ford Coppola Wagner’s Ring Cycle  embodies every bad thing you’ve ever heard about Opera.

I love the smell of Napalm in the morning.  It smells like… victory.

Anyway, let the fat lady sing and get your sitz on for 15 hours of The Ring.

Das Rheingold

Die Walkure

Siegfried

Gotterdammerung

Oh, Opera not enough for you.  Well Obligatories, News and Blogs below.

Obligatories

Welcome to The Breakfast Club! We’re a disorganized group of rebel lefties who hang out and chat if and when we’re not too hungover we’ve been bailed out we’re not too exhausted from last night’s (CENSORED) the caffeine kicks in. Join us every weekday morning at 9am (ET) and weekend morning at 10:30am (ET) to talk about current news and our boring lives and to make fun of LaEscapee! If we are ever running late, it’s PhilJD’s fault.

I would never make fun of LaEscapee or blame PhilJD.  And I am highly organized.

The fault, dear Brutus, is not in our stars, but in ourselves, that we are underlings.

Julius Caesar (I, ii, 140-141)

This Day in History

News

The day Jon Stewart quit: Why “The Daily Show” isn’t the satire America needs

There was once a time when “The Daily Show” was truly groundbreaking. That isn’t the case anymore

Jamie Kilstein and Allison Kilkenny, Salon

10/18/2014

“The Daily Show’s” Guide to Activism

  1. Wake up.
  2. Play Xbox for one to seven hours.
  3. Throw away empty PBR cans.
  4. Write angry Tumblr post about evils of corporations while smoking Marlboro reds, eating McDonald’s hamburger, and drinking Pepsi beverage.
  5. Watch “The Daily Show” with Jon Stewart.
  6. Email MoveOn.org petition to family.
  7. Avoid phone calls from family members.
  8. Change Twitter avatar to whatever color for whatever latest third-world country is being destroyed by crazed dictator.
  9. Search Wikipedia for information on said country in case later quizzed.
  10. Play Xbox for several more hours.
  11. Go to sleep with self-satisfied smile on face.

“I’m not going away”: James Risen unloads to Salon about his government foes

Elias Isquith, Salon

Saturday, Oct 18, 2014 09:15 AM EST

I felt like we had this whole period, 13 years now, where we essentially “took the gloves off,” in Dick Cheney’s famous words, in order to fight a global war on terror. And what Cheney meant by that was deregulating national security, and what that meant was eliminating or reducing or relaxing the rules that had been put in place for 30 years, from the post-Watergate era, which were governing the way in which we conducted national security.

At the same time, we were pouring hundreds of billions of dollars into the war on terror, and what, to me, had not been getting much attention is how the combination of deregulating national security while pouring massive amounts of money into a new national security state was having enormous unintended consequences and leading to bizarre operations and a runaway new national security state. And I felt like that was not being reflected in a lot of the things people were writing about.

It just seemed to me the war on terror was becoming increasingly bizarre, and I didn’t feel like that was being captured in the press.

EPA: Bee-killing pesticides used on soy crops don’t even do what they’re supposed to

Lindsay Abrams, Salon

Friday, Oct 17, 2014 02:56 PM EST

The EPA has yet to do much about neonicotinoids, the class of pesticides implicated in the United States’ mass bee die-offs, but it has started looking into them. And the results of an extensive review into one such pesticide, commonly applied to soybean seeds, presents another compelling reason to ban them: using them, the agency found, isn’t any better than using no pesticides at all.

“These seed treatments provide negligible overall benefits to soybean production in most situations,” the report concludes; at most, they up revenue by $6, or less than 2 percent, per acre, but the more likely estimate is $0. Part of the problem is that the insecticides are only effective within the first few weeks of planting, while the insects they’re intended to combat aren’t typically active during that time. And if attacks do occur, the study identified a whole assortment of other, non-bee-killing alternatives that are both effective and comparable in cost.

Colony collapse disorder, on the other hand, has cost the U.S. an estimated $2 billion in lost hives and, as a result, some $30 billion in crops.

Anatomy of an Obama cave

By JENNIFER EPSTEIN, Politico

10/17/14 8:12 PM EDT

Well before Friday’s announcement that Obama had chosen former Biden and Gore aide Ron Klain to serve as the administration’s “Ebola response coordinator” – and the hints about the appointment that the president made on Thursday night – the pattern was set. It’s one that’s played out many times in Obama’s nearly six years in office: Wait to respond to a crisis, draw criticism from Capitol Hill and the American public, dismiss outsiders’ suggestions as politically driven and reactive to a short-term Washington uproar – then eventually give in.



“Without the right person in charge, I am concerned the president’s appointment of a political ally will only add to the bureaucratic inefficiencies that have plagued Ebola response efforts thus far,” Moran said. “Unfortunately, the White House is treating this critical role like an appointment to be the ‘Green-Jobs Czar’ or a ‘Great Lakes Czar’ – political operatives with titles – not handling it with the seriousness it deserves.”

He added: “This is a real crisis and worthy of an individual with extensive background in international diplomacy, experience coordinating large-scale interagency missions, as well as a proven ability to work with Congress and across the aisle. The stakes are high and Americans need confidence that their government is working in their best interest.”

Blowing the Whistle on CIA Torture from Beyond the Grave

By Cora Currier, The Intercept

10/17/14

In the fall of 2006, Nathaniel Raymond, a researcher with the advocacy group Physicians for Human Rights, got a call from a man professing to be a CIA contractor. Scott Gerwehr was a behavioral science researcher who specialized in “deception detection,” or figuring out when someone was lying.  Gerwehr told Raymond “practically in the first five minutes” that he had been at the U.S. prison at Guantanamo in the summer of 2006, but had left after his suggestion to install video-recording equipment in detainee interrogation rooms was rejected. “He said, ‘I wouldn’t operate at a facility that didn’t tape. It protects the interrogators and it protects the detainees,'” Raymond recalls.

Gerwehr also told Raymond that that he had read the CIA inspector general’s report on detainee abuse, which at the time had not been made public. But “he didn’t behave like a traditional white knight,” Raymond told The Intercept. Though he had reached out to Raymond and perhaps others, he didn’t seem like a prototypical whistleblower. He didn’t say what he was trying to do or ask for help; he just dropped the information. Raymond put him in touch with a handful of reporters, and their contact ended in 2007.

In 2008, at the age of 40, Gerwehr died in a motorcycle accident on Sunset Boulevard. Years after Gerwehr died, New York Times reporter James Risen obtained a cache of Gerwehr’s files, including emails that identify him as part of a group of psychologists and researchers with close ties to the national security establishment. Risen’s new book, Pay Any Price, uses Gerwehr’s emails to show close collaboration between staffers at the American Psychological Association (APA) and government officials, collaboration that offered a fig leaf of health-professional legitimacy to the CIA and military’s brutal interrogations of terror suspects.

What ‘Democracy’ Really Means in U.S. and New York Times Jargon: Latin America Edition

By Glenn Greenwald, The Intercept

10/17/14

One of the most accidentally revealing media accounts highlighting the real meaning of “democracy” in U.S. discourse is a still-remarkable 2002 New York Times Editorial on the U.S.-backed military coup in Venezuela, which temporarily removed that country’s democratically elected (and very popular) president, Hugo Chávez. Rather than describe that coup as what it was by definition – a direct attack on democracy by a foreign power and domestic military which disliked the popularly elected president – the Times, in the most Orwellian fashion imaginable, literally celebrated the coup as a victory for democracy.



If you think The New York Times editorial page has learned any lessons from that debacle, you’d be mistaken. Today they published an editorial expressing grave concern about the state of democracy in Latin America generally and Bolivia specifically. The proximate cause of this concern? The overwhelming election victory of Bolivian President Evo Morales (pictured above), who, as The Guardian put it, “is widely popular at home for a pragmatic economic stewardship that spread Bolivia’s natural gas and mineral wealth among the masses.”

The Times editors nonetheless see Morales’ election to a third term not as a vindication of democracy but as a threat to it, linking his election victory to the way in which “the strength of democratic values in the region has been undermined in past years by coups and electoral irregularities.” Even as they admit that “it is easy to see why many Bolivians would want to see Mr. Morales, the country’s first president with indigenous roots, remain at the helm” – because “during his tenure, the economy of the country, one of the least developed in the hemisphere, grew at a healthy rate, the level of inequality shrank and the number of people living in poverty dropped significantly” – they nonetheless chide Bolivia’s neighbors for endorsing his ongoing rule: “it is troubling that the stronger democracies in Latin America seem happy to condone it.”



You can’t get much more blatant than that. The democratically elected leaders of these sovereign countries fail to submit to U.S. dictates, impede American imperialism, and subvert U.S. industry’s neoliberal designs on the region’s resources. Therefore, despite how popular they are with their own citizens and how much they’ve improved the lives of millions of their nations’ long-oppressed and impoverished minorities, they are depicted as grave threats to “democracy.”

It is, of course, true that democratically elected leaders are capable of authoritarian measures. It is, for instance, democratically elected U.S. leaders who imprison people without charges for years ], build [secret domestic spying systems, and even assert the power to assassinate their own citizens without due process. Elections are no guarantee against tyranny. There are legitimate criticisms to be made of each of these leaders with regard to domestic measures and civic freedoms, as there is for virtually every government on the planet.

But the very idea that the U.S. government and its media allies are motivated by those flaws is nothing short of laughable. Many of the U.S. government’s closest allies are the world’s worst regimes, beginning with the uniquely oppressive Saudi kingdom (which just yesterday sentenced a popular Shiite dissident to death) and the brutal military coup regime in Egypt, which, as my colleague Murtaza Hussain reports today, gets more popular in Washington as it becomes even more oppressive. And, of course, the U.S. supports Israel in every way imaginable even as its Secretary of State expressly recognizes the “apartheid” nature of its policy path.

ISIS Keeps Up Pressure Near Baghdad as Iraqi Troops Hesitate

By KIRK SEMPLE and ERIC SCHMITT, The New York Times

OCT. 17, 2014

As Iraqi and American officials have tried to rally the Iraqi security forces, efforts in Baghdad to achieve a more unified political front to face the crisis have also gone slowly. Iraq’s new prime minister, Haider al-Abadi, has been struggling to gain support not only from minority Sunnis and Kurds – a process President Obama called critical to any military effort – but even within his own Shiite bloc. Despite weeks of wrangling, he has yet to fill the two crucial security posts in his cabinet: defense and interior.

The Islamic State’s advances in Anbar Province, which is largely Sunni, have been a central concern for the Iraqi authorities since the beginning of the year. The militants first established a major foothold there in January when they seized the city of Falluja. They have expanded their authority throughout the province, sometimes by force, but also by taking advantage of the profound disenchantment among Sunnis alienated by the government in Baghdad.



“The American advisers are doing everything they can to help the Iraqi security forces be more competent and confident in the field,” said one senior American military official in Washington, who spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss battlefield considerations. “They’re trying to get them to be able to dislodge ISIL as best they can.”

Regulators Are Gauging Health of Europe’s Banks, and the Remedy May Sting a Little

By Jack Ewing and Landon Thomas Jr., The New Yor Times

October 17, 2014 6:32 am

The European Central Bank is trying to restore confidence with a deep dive into the banks to determine which are in good shape, which need to shore up their finances and which should be shut down. But the results, which are set to be released next weekend, may further rattle the markets if banks unexpectedly have to write down bad loans and quickly raise capital.

Officials say that the short-term pain is necessary to put the European economy back on track. Regulators in the United States forced a similar catharsis on American banks in 2009, helping set the stage for the current recovery.

The fragmented eurozone took a more timid approach. A review in 2011, conducted by another regulator, gave passing grades to banks in Belgium and Portugal that later imploded, casting doubt on the stability of the entire European financial system.

Europe is paying the price. The uncertainty has made it difficult for banks to raise funds, creating a severe shortage of credit in some regions. Since businesses cannot obtain loans to invest in equipment or hire people, growth is at a standstill and unemployment remains high.

Officer who shot Michael Brown says he feared for his life

Amanda Holpuch, The Guardian

Saturday 18 October 2014 11.42 EDT

The white police officer who shot dead Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri in August, sparking protests which continue in October, reportedly told investigators he feared for his life in an altercation with the teenager just before the shooting.

The New York Times reported that officer Darren Wilson told authorities he was pinned in his vehicle during an altercation with Brown, and that the teenager reached for his gun.



FBI forensic tests showed that a gun was fired twice in Wilson’s car. Wilson told investigators that Brown reached for the gun. One bullet struck Brown and the other missed him. The tests also showed Brown’s blood on the gun, an interior door panel of the car and on Wilson’s uniform.

According to the Times, Wilson said Brown “had punched and scratched him repeatedly, leaving swelling on his face and cuts on his neck”.

Wilson had stopped Brown and a friend for jaywalking, but it is still unclear why. Police have said Brown assaulted the officer, while multiple witnesses have said Brown was shot while running away and that his hands were up.

Senior NSA official moonlighting for private cybersecurity firm

Spencer Ackerman, The Guardian

Friday 17 October 2014 16.51 EDT

Patrick Dowd continues to work as a senior NSA official while also working part time for Alexander’s IronNet Cybersecurity, a firm reported to charge up to $1m a month for advising banks on protecting their data from hackers. It is exceedingly rare for a US official to be allowed to work for a private, for-profit company in a field intimately related to his or her public function.

Reuters, which broke the story of Dowd’s relationship with IronNet, reported that the NSA is reviewing the business deal.

Since retiring from the NSA in March and entering the burgeoning field of cybersecurity consulting, Alexander has vociferously defended his ethics against charges of profiting off of his NSA credentials. Alexander was the founding general in charge of US Cyber Command, the first military command charged with defending Defense Department data and attacking those belonging to adversaries. Both positions provide Alexander with unique and marketable insights into cybersecurity.

His final year as the agency’s longest serving director was characterised by reacting to Edward Snowden’s disclosures – and the embarrassment of presiding over the largest data breach in the agency’s history – and publicly urging greater cybersecurity cooperation between the agency and financial institutions.

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