Friday, July 14

John Dean, Proto-Fascism and the Third Wave

Crossposted on Dailykos and Democratic Underground.

John Dean appeared this week on the Daily Show to discuss his new book Conservatives Without Conscience.

From Crooks and Liars:
TDS-John-DEAN.jpgVideo -WMP Video -QT
Transcript by The Third Path

Dean: Unfortunately, it could happen here, and it hasn't happened here -- we don't typically talk about authoritarianism in democracy -- but indeed there is an authoritarian strain that has gotten into the conservative movement.

Dean and Stewart go on to discuss exactly how close we've come to Authoritarianism, or "Fascism" as Stewart suggest and Dean repeats his earlier statements from his Olbermann appearance that we "aren't there yet. It's only proto-Facism so far".

Dean: In dealing with that, in the Milgram experiments, where he brought people in off the street, and indeed found that he could get them to administer high voltage -- what they thought was high voltage, and it wasn't. I deal with that to show how people can set their conscience aside. In other words, how do people go into the CIA every day and carry out some of the orders for torture? How do people go into NSA and turn that incredible apparatus against Americans? This is a typical Milgram situation. I actually go beyond that to find the nature of the authoritarian personality that will follow a leader who is an authoritarian.

Stewart: Do you believe that the conservative movement has been overtaken by -- I mean, authoritarianism is another word, I guess, for fascism -- or do you think it's a weird confluence of events: an attack on American soil, a government that is unchecked by an oppositional party, in some respects -- Dean: First of all, it's proto-fascism. We're not there yet....read on
What Dean is describing reminds me of a fairly old story I'd heard. This High School History teacher was describing Nazi Germany to his students and one of them stood up and argued that what happened in that nation - couldn't happen here. His teacher begged to differ, and then went on to prove it. He began a student/school organization called the "Third Wave" - which was based entirely on authoritarianism. Facism. The movement swept through the school and create some rather intense results.

Ok, so I checked the web - and here's one racist right-wing site that discusses a TV movie that was eventually made about the event - and which rather frighteningly, misses the point entirely -- but then again maybe they don't.

BACK IN 1967 a very strange thing happened in a high school history classroom in California. Something amazing. Something that turned the then-emerging "me generation" on its head -- and showed us how we could have a real youth revolution, a White youth revolution, instead of the synthetic destruction-of-youth revolution we got instead. Something that was intended to be a "lesson against hate" -- but which quickly turned into a demonstration of something quite different indeed.

'It happened at Cubberly High School in Palo Alto, California. Remember, this was the height of the "do your own thing" Haight-Ashbury movement -- you know, Janis Joplin and that kind of stuff... Big Brother and the Holding Company. That crazy Ken Kesey and the Merry Pranksters were running around with their yellow bus, sipping LSD, and all that "groovy" stuff... the Doors, et cetera.

'And a man by the name of Ron Jones was a liberal teacher out there in Palo Alto. They didn't believe in bells and they didn't believe in textbooks. But they were talking about the "Holocaust" nonetheless.

'This was on a Friday afternoon. And Mr. Jones, the teacher, was asked "Well, listen, Mr. Jones, if they really killed six million Jews, why was it that the German people just stood around and did nothing? I mean, they could have seen the trains, they could have seen the smoke, the bones... I mean, they could have seen something. Why didn't they try to stop it?" And Jones didn't know. You know, being a good liberal, the lobotomized front part of his brain just shut off when he heard that. He didn't have an answer.

'So what he decided to do after he went home that day was to show these kids how easy it is to become a cog in a totalitarian machine. Supposedly, I mean -- this was his outlook.

But apparently not the outlook of the site I found this text on - their view was that Jones was really "on to" something, but just didn't have the heart or character to follow through on it.

Yeah - I know.


'On Monday morning he came into his classroom and began his experiment. Remember, these are 10th graders -- about 14 years old, probably. All White. All affluent. And all freaky -- with the long hair and all the rest of it.

Jones countered the students skeptism with insipiring platitudes:

"No, I'm just going to talk to you... about The Beauty of Discipline and Strength Through Discipline.

"Strength Through Discipline is going to take self training, through control, into the power of the will."

"That's the ultimate triumph that we can have: power through the will."

Eventually:

'And he went on to demonstrate that through a simple seating exercise. He had everyone line up against the wall and then quickly return to their seats, in the same position. And everyone kind of liked it. I quote him: "It was strange how quickly the students took to the uniform code of behavior. I began to wonder just how far they could be pushed. Was this display of obedience a momentary game we were all playing, or was it something else? Was the desire for discipline and uniformity a natural need?" I'll tell Mr. Jones right now: It is. As a teacher, I can see it.

The lessons went on for several more days, and eventually parents began to notice the difference in their kids.
'Wednesday night the rabbi called when Jones got home. He said "Mr. Jones, what are you doing to my kids? I've had many conversations with parents, and they don't like this... what is it? ...this Third Wave thing. It looks like a Nazi salute." Jones said, "Now listen, Finkelbaum, I'm just messing with their minds. I'm going to stomp on them. All I'm doing is just showing them how easy it is to become a Fascist."
The school began to change, as more students become Third Wave-ers and began to bully and intimidate those who were not. Jones continued the experienment directing the movement through various catch phrases.


    STRENGTH THROUGH DISCIPLINE

    STRENGTH THROUGH COMMUNITY

    STRENGTH THROUGH ACTION

    STRENGTH THROUGH PRIDE

But eventually the facade had to be broken:

On Friday he said "What's going to happen is we're going to go to the auditorium, and we'll meet the national leader. The national leader will be on television. We'll see him on television and we tell us exactly what to do." On Friday, there wasn't a set left in the auditorium. And here's what happened.

'Jones made a very big issue out of taking the TV set -- it was a portable TV set -- and plugging it in to the auditorium's AV system, and just letting it sit there, turned on but with no signal. He had tuned it between channels, and all you could see was fuzzy snow on the screen. And he just left it there, and closed the kids up in the auditorium.

'After about five minutes, a girl shrieked out: "There's no leader!" And she started to cry. And the entire audience started to cry and yell. And they broke up the TV set. They almost, to use the vernacular, trashed the place.

Now, some argue that the entire Third Wave incident is merely urban legend which has been embellished by Jones over the years -- maybe it has. I found nothing when searching for the supposed TV movie on IMBD.com where they list The Burning Bed (1984) and the original Charlie's Angels show from 1976(on DVD) - so you'd think they'd have this too unless it was just too long ago and too obscure.

From what I can tell this appears to be Jones own article on the event. Some details are different from the first version I found above, but the essentials are the same.

Most sites which tend to recount this story that I've found on the net so far are Aryan Supremacist to one degree or another, and that tends to make the larger point that what Jones describes seems to dovetail quite strongly with what Dean writes. Although there are certainly authorian tendencies on the left (Communism, Socialism) the rising tide of authoritarianism and proto-Facism in modern times is coming from the Right.

These various racist sites may quibble and wring their hands over Jones' apparent ambivelence about his experiment, and the fact that Jones himself was Jewish , they still nonetheless are highly motivated by his ability (or even the suggestion that it's fairly easy) to convert these "loser surfer" kids into jack-booted thugs within a few days.

Little do they contemplate that the same thing could happen with black or brown skinned kids - and one might say that the attractiveness of an authoritarin structure is exactly what drives kids into the arms of Black and Latino gangs.

Of course Skinheads are attracted to the idea that the Third Wave could lead to the rise of the Fourth Reich, and some might argue that the methods used by Jones way back in 1967 may have already be doing exactly that - programming many in nation into Sheeple - though the constant bleat of authoritarian views on Faux News and implementation of the strictly structured standardized tests of No Child Left Behind which seek to discourage independance and originality of thought or action by our youth.

Tom "TJ" Leyden
While I admit this seems a bleak outlook, I have to point to the real life - and quite verified story - of an ex-neo nazi/skinhead recruiter T.J. Leyden.

Growing up in Fontana, CA T.J. was a directionless youth until he was spotted by Skinhead scouts. They took him in, gave him "direction" -- only that direction was ultimated soaked in hate. He spent the next 15 years of his life as a member of the movement - including a stint in the Marines - until finally he saw that save hate reflected in his children - and he said "No".

He turned away from the movement (and unfortunately his wife and family who remained members), joining with the Southern Poverty Law Center and Simon Weisenthal Center/Museum of Tolerance to teach anti-facism where he worked for fives years.

He was invited by President Clinton to be a featured speaker at the White House Conference on Hate, and he has trained at the Pentagon, the FBI, military bases, and for numerous law enforcement agencies. He has spoken to more than 650,000 students. He has also testified against individuals on trial for hate crimes. Although he receives regular death threats and must take extraordinary measures to protect himself from his former friends, Leyden is committed to being a fierce advocate for the importance of appreciating the differences in all people.
T.J. describes just how easy it was to recruit skinheads, particulartly while he was in the military.
[Leyden] A former Marine who regularly recruited fellow skinheads and hate-mongers into his group while wearing the uniform of his country, Leyden said the military environment - regardless of the branch of service - is a terrific feeding ground for a hate-group recruiter. "It was easy. ... The military is a great place to recruit people like I once was. They're trained, physically fit, disciplined, ... and many are away from home for the first time. Easy pickings. They're looking for anyone who will be their friend and defender," he said. "And that's just what we offered them."

That to me sounds a bit like:


    Strength through Discipline - Strength through Community - Strength through Pride - Strength through Action.


At a time when reports are that skinheads are once again beginning to infiltrate our military, adn the military/authoritarian mindset is slowly creeping it's way into the national conscienceness in the wake of 9-11, and the midst of the growing Israel/Lebanon conflict - I'd say it's just too damn easy if you ask me. 23% of us can fil a whole lotta jack boots.

We can already see the trains and see the smoke, but are we - like Dean and T.J. - standing up to stop it?

Vyan

Update from Dkos Comments: The movie was called "The Wave" (1981) and is listed on IMDB here, it won Two Emmys, a Peabody Award and a Young Adult Award for best Television special, the Novel by Todd Stassel is available on Amazon.com.

Thursday, July 13

Plame & Wilson sue Cheney, Libby and Rove

Coming directly on the heels of Robert Novak's tell-all column on the plame affair, Joe Wilson and Valerie Plame have filed a The lawsuit against Vice President Dick Cheney, his former Chief of staff Lewis "Scooter" Libby and White House Deputy Chief of Staff Karl Rove.

From the latest release:

Former CIA agent Valerie Plame Wilson and her husband, former Ambassador Joseph Wilson, filed suit in federal court today against Vice President Dick Cheney, his former Chief of Staff I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby, top Presidential advisor Karl Rove and other unnamed senior White House officials, for their role in the public disclosure of Valerie Wilson's classified CIA status.

The suit accuses the defendants of violating the Wilsons' constitutional and other legal rights as a result of "a conspiracy among current and former high-level officials in the White House" to "discredit, punish and seek revenge against" Mr. Wilson for publicly disputing statements made by President Bush in his 2003 State of the Union address justifying the war in Iraq.

The suit was filed nearly three years after Washington columnist Robert Novak disclosed Valerie Wilson's classified CIA employment in a column he wrote on July 14, 2003, based on leaks from senior administration officials. It subsequently was confirmed, during Special Counsel Patrick Fitzgerald's criminal investigation, that several top ranking officials in the White House leaked Wilson's name and status with the CIA to Novak and other reporters.

The Complaint was filed in the United States District Court for the District of Columbia by the international law firm of Proskauer Rose LLP, whose team is headed by Washington, D.C. litigation partner and privacy law practitioner Christopher Wolf. Noted Constitutional law scholar Erwin Chemerinsky, a professor of law at Duke University, is of counsel in the case.

As a result of Cheney, Libby and Rove's conduct, the suit claims that the Wilsons have suffered violations of their rights guaranteed under the United States Constitution and by laws of the District of Columbia.

Excerpts From the Complaint in Wilson v. Libby, et al.:

"The lawsuit concerns the intentional and malicious exposure by senior officials of the federal government of one such human source at the CIA, Valerie Plame Wilson, whose job it was to gather intelligence to make the nation safer, and who risked her life for her country."

"The Defendants reached an agreement to discredit, punish, and seek revenge against the Plaintiffs . . . . Said agreement was motivated by an invidiously discriminatory animus towards those who had publicly criticized the administration's stated justifications for going to war with Iraq."

"The Defendants chose not to address publicly, directly, and on the merits why they may have thought Mr. Wilson was wrong or unfair in his statements on the President's misstatements. Rather, they embarked on an anonymous 'whispering campaign' designed to discredit and injure the Plaintiffs and to deter other critics from publicly speaking out."

"But for Mr. Wilson coming forward, it is unlikely that the Administration ever would have acknowledged its error. The fact that the administration had to admit its mistake is one likely reason why the Defendants chose to attack the Wilsons"

"The Defendants fraudulently concealed the existence of the Plaintiffs' cause of action . . . by, among other things, giving false or misleading testimony to federal law enforcement personnel and/or the federal grand jury empanelled to investigate the unlawful publication of Plaintiff Valerie Plame Wilson's classified CIA employment. . . ."

SusanHu has a statement byAmbassador Wilson to Robert Novak up on Dkos with additional comments by former CIA Operative Larry Johnson.

Wilson:

Robert Novak: Justifying the Unjustifiable

"Robert Novak, some other commentators and the Administration continue to try to completely distort the role that Valerie Wilson played with respect to Ambassador Wilson's trip to Niger. The facts are beyond dispute. The Office of the Vice President requested that the CIA investigate reports of alleged uranium purchases by Iraq from Niger."

"The CIA set up a meeting to respond to the Vice President's inquiry. Another CIA official, not Valerie Wilson, suggested to Valerie Wilson's supervisor that the Ambassador attend that meeting. That other CIA official made the recommendation because that official was familiar with the Ambassador's vast experience in Niger and knew of a previous trip to Africa concerning uranium matters that had been undertaken by the Ambassador on behalf of the CIA in 1999.

"Valerie Wilson's supervisor subsequently asked her to relay a request from him to the Ambassador that he would like the Ambassador to attend the meeting at the CIA. Valerie Wilson did not participate in the meeting."

-- Ambassador Joseph Wilson

SusanG has more of this statement Frontpaged on Kos.

Johnson:
First, Robert Novak has been repeating the nonsense that he learned Valerie was undercover because he looked her up in Who's Who. Excuse me? If you looked up Valerie in Who's Who back in July 2001 it said nothing, I repeat NOTHING, about her working for the CIA. The only way Novak knew that she worked at the CIA was because Karl Rove told him.

Bill Harlow, the CIA's spokesman said more than he should to Novak but at least he warned Novak not to print anything about her identity.

Second, more than 10 former intelligence officers (myself included), identified by name, have stated that Valerie was undercover when she was outed. Those are cold, hard facts.

For additional information, here is a link to The Joseph and Valerie Wilson Legal Support Trust, which has copies of the press release and the formal complaint filed, all in one place.

Vyan

The New Racism: Voting Rights Battle Heats Up

omes
The Rev.Jesse Jackson answers a question at a news conference in New Orleans, Wednesday, July 12, 2006. Jackson still believes the New Orleans elections were unfair, he said Wednesday, although he never went through with a plan to challenge the results. He was among activists who had said prior to the spring elections that the results would be challenged, arguing that hurricane evacuees from the predominantly black city were not given ample opportunity to vote. (AP Photo/Bill Haber) The AP Reports.
WASHINGTON - Renewal of the 1965 Voting Rights Act, once a sure thing, hit another bump Thursday as House Democrats threatened to vote against it if any changes by Southern conservatives were added.

"Democrats would not be able to vote for the bill if any one of those amendments passes," said Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi. "Any one of them would be a weakening of the Voting Rights Act."
But just what is all this strum and drang all about? What changes to the Voting rights act?
"By passing this rewrite of the Voting Rights Act, Congress is declaring from on high that states with voting problems 40 years ago can simply never be forgiven," said Rep. Lynn Westmoreland, R-Ga.
Forgiven? Is this about forgivenness or is this about upholding the 15th Amendment of the Constitution which supposedly granted blacks the right to vote way back in 1870? It wasn't until 1965 - ninety five years later - that any serious protection for that Constitutional right was put in place via the Voting Rights Act. Now, people like Westmoreland are arguing that all our problems were oh so long ago in the 60's - while some rather serious voting rights violations which significantly blocked the ability of African-Amerians to vote appear to have occured just two years ago in Ohio?

Maybe "forgiveness" is something that should be considered once people stop commiting the crime.

In the 19th Century the DOJ documents the methods of disenfrachisment of African Americans as the following:

The extension of the [Voting Rights] franchise to black citizens was strongly resisted. Among others, the Ku Klux Klan, the Knights of the White Camellia, and other terrorist organizations attempted to prevent the 15th Amendment from being enforced by violence and intimidation. Two decisions in 1876 by the Supreme Court narrowed the scope of enforcement under the Enforcement Act and the Force Act, and, together with the end of Reconstruction marked by the removal of federal troops after the Hayes-Tilden Compromise of 1877, resulted in a climate in which violence could be used to depress black voter turnout and fraud could be used to undo the effect of lawfully cast votes.

Once whites regained control of the state legislatures using these tactics, a process known as "Redemption," they used gerrymandering of election districts to further reduce black voting strength and minimize the number of black elected officials. In the 1890s, these states began to amend their constitutions and to enact a series of laws intended to re-establish and entrench white political supremacy.

Such disfranchising laws included poll taxes, literacy tests, vouchers of "good character," and disqualification for "crimes of moral turpitude." These laws were "color-blind" on their face, but were designed to exclude black citizens disproportionately by allowing white election officials to apply the procedures selectively. Other laws and practices, such as the "white primary,", attempted to evade the 15th Amendment by allowing "private" political parties to conduct elections and establish qualifications for their members.

But that did not all end 1965 - which as a matter of fact, was not that long ago.
In one of the day's most emotional speeches, Rep. John Lewis, D-Ga., displayed photos of civil rights activists, including himself, who were beaten by Alabama state troopers in 1965 as they marched from Selma to Montgomery in support of voting rights.

"I have a concussion. I almost died. I gave blood; some of my colleagues gave their very lives," Lewis shouted from the House floor, while the Rev. Jesse Jackson, another veteran of the civil rights movement, looked on from the gallery.
If anything, time seems to have dulled our memories of how difficult a struggle was had over this issue in 1965, how strong and violent the opposition remained - 95 years after the Constitution had already closed this issue. Rep Lewis has recently stated:
"[I]t was during the middle of the last census that the Georgia State Legislature authored a redistricting plan that severely diluted the power of the African American vote. It was Georgia that developed the modern-day poll tax, as one federal judge called it, that disenfranchises rural voters, the elderly, the disabled, students and other minorities who have no government photo ID. It is the state of Georgia that has received over 80 objections from the Civil Rights Division of the Department of Justice since the last reauthorization, pointing to discriminatory voting plans agreed to by state, county, and local governments. And Georgia represents only a part of the over 1000 objections the DOJ has seen fit to make since the last reauthorization in 1982. "The evidence shows that voting discrimination in America is not dead, and the Voting Rights Act must retain its original power in order to assure that democracy prevails in every hill and valley, every city and suburb, on every fertile farm and every desert plain in America. If we as a nation and a people are truly committed to the full participation of every American in the democratic process, then there should be no serious impediment to the passage of H.R. 9. To every Member who has looked at the overwhelming evidence, it is clear that we have come a great distance, but we still have a great distance to go before we can lay down the burden of voting discrimination in America."
As Lindsey Graham inadvertendly alluded during the Alito hearings, the bigots have gone into the closet. The opposition of 40 years ago still exists, only it has learned to cloak itself. To hide in plain site, using issues like Immigration, Bi-lingualism and even partisanship itself as their cover.
Rep. Alcee Hastings, D-Fla., opened the debate by calling the conservatives who want to strike the bill's requirements for bilingual ballots present-day "ideological soul mates" of lawmakers who opposed the 1964 Civil Rights Act.

"For them, this is not a debate about fairness, it is about ideology. Ideology has no place in today's debate," Hastings said. "We should do this not for the partisan benefit but because, as John Kennedy said, it is right."
What we're seeing here are the tried and true tactics of the 1870's being repeated. Apparently race-neutral restrictions being applied on the appliction of the 15th Amendent, which are not very likely to have a race-neutral outcomes just as we saw in 2004.

Essentially the core of this current debate seems to be the preclearance list, which doesn't allow certain cities and districts to change voting rules without first obtaining clearance from the Department of Justice. Yet the result of the the use of a secondary check on potential abuse of the rules has been highly valueble. The DOJ itself states:

The Voting Rights Act itself has been called the single most effective piece of civil rights legislation ever passed by Congress.

The following table compares black voter registration rates with white voter registration rates in seven Southern States in 1965 and 1988:

Voter Registration Rates (1965 vs. 1988)

March 1965 November 1988
Black White Gap Black White Gap
Alabama 19.3 69.2 49.9 68.4 75.0 6.6
Georgia 27.4 62.6 35.2 56.8 63.9 7.1
Louisiana 31.6 80.5 48.9 77.1 75.1 -2.0
Mississippi 6.7 69.9 63.2 74.2 80.5 6.3
North Carolina 46.8 96.8 50.0 58.2 65.6 7.4
South Carolina 37.3 75.7 38.4 56.7 61.8 5.1
Virginia 38.3 61.1 22.8 63.8 68.5 4.7
I would argue that preclearance of this type for arbitary and restrictive rules changes - like those made by Kenneth Blackwell in Ohio is something we probably need far more of, not less.

Yes, as this chart shows, we have made progress since 1965, but the fight is not over yet and now is not the time to backslide. This is the return of the old racism in a fresh new face - it's a percursor to the institutions of brand new versions of the poll tax and literacy tests which are designed to knock "undesirable" voters off the rolls - force them onto provisional ballots, and then ignore those votes. Generally these voters have been Democratic, and African-American vote overwhelming Democratic.

Right now, there isn't an issue with a greater and more potentially harmful impact before Congress. Call your Representatives Now Toll Free at : (888) 355 3588

Just ask for them by name -either to give your support or lodge your opposition to changes which make discrimination and disenfranchisement easier to accomplish - the Operators will connect you in seconds.

Update From Dkos Comments: USA Today Reports that the House has renewed the VRA without the Proposed Amendments.

WASHINGTON — The House of Representatives voted overwhelmingly Thursday to renew the 1965 Voting Rights Act, overcoming an attempt by conservatives to ease restrictions they said are no longer necessary.

The 390-33 vote preserves for 25 years a law enacted at a time when Southern states employed tactics to suppress black voting and was designed to ensure no state deny people the right to vote based on their race or color.

The law's renewal had attracted bipartisan support and the approval of President Bush. But representatives from states singled out by the act because of past discriminatory practices wanted changes.

Rep. Charlie Norwood, R-Ga., and a handful of conservatives proposed amendments to eliminate provisions requiring states like his to get federal approval before changing their voting procedures. They also proposed an end to multilingual ballots in certain states, saying it is unnecessary because proficiency in English is required for citizenship.

House Judiciary Chairman F. James Sensenbrenner, R-Wis., led supporters in blocking the amendments. Among those defeated was a proposal to limit the act's renewal period to 10 years and elimination of a provision that requires the Justice Department to monitor some local elections.

Just before the vote, Rep. Maxine Waters, D-Calif., said the act should remain as is. She said that while voter poll taxes and literacy tests are now illegal, a federal judge as recently as Wednesday ruled that Georgia's law to require government-issued identification cards discriminated against minorities.

"Don't disrespect the civil rights movement," Waters said. "Show the world that America is sincere about democracy."

Score one for the good guys.

Vyan

RS: Supernova - Elimination Week 2

Ok, this is getting stupid.

For the second week in a row, the person putting on the best performance among the bottom three performers - got dumped. Last week it was Matt, this week it was Chris. The SN boys made the argument that he was in the B3 twice in row -- well, if that's a rule JD wouldn't have made it to the end last year. He almost got tossed on the very first show. But I digress.

Jill en Baby-Doll delicto ©© Danny Moloshok / Blue Pixel for MBP 2006Let's examine the competition. First we had Jill, who "yesterday" (they actually taped the performance show several days previously) did an incredibly savant like Courtney Love impression without ever actually having seen a Courtney Love performance, right down to the baby-doll wedding dress, combat boots and roses. Coincidence, right? Yeah, sure.

Anyway for her elimination song she choose to sing the same song that Zayra had poodle yapped through last week, Evanescense's "Bring me too life". There are very few songs that I can remember the moment I first heard them - in the case of this song it was about four years ago during a break in the middle of a Sacramento King's Basketball game (probably on KXTV) in Sactown. It was one of those video collages of the the key plays leading up to halftime - you know the ones - and during the slam-dunks and behind the back passes they were playing this song. Me and my wife - both of us are musicians - went "What the hell is that?" We even called up the station to find out. I've been a hardcore fan of Evanescence and Amy Lee's voice ever since. Not quite as hardcore as the two goth kids who literally jumped out of their seats and screamed when the song was first played during an early screening of Daredevil (as described on the Director's Cut DVD) but pretty hard core.

It was bad enough that Zayra fucking butchered this song last week, but this performance by Jill was a real let down. Why, you might be asking yourself? Because she fucking can't sing it. During the entire song she was sharp (overshooting the notes), except for certain notes in the chorus where she was flat (singing just below the proper pitch) - and it was always the same note. Usually on the word "Tooooo" in the last repeat of "Bring me Tooo life" at the end of the chorus. The same note also came up on the word "Night" and she would miss it everytime.

I've been singing for 20-years in hard rock bands (like Planet X and Glitched who are both featured on the radio station linked to this site), and pardon me for getting all technical up in this biatch, but Jill has a vocal problem. That note was a what's called a break point in her voice. Skip past to the next section if you already know what the hell I'm talking about.

If not, read this:
Most people actually have several "voices" that they use in their life and especially in singing. The most common two are the Chest Voice (speaking voice) and the Head Voice (also known as the falsetto, a higher pitch tone created by driving the air through the back of your throat and into your sinus). If you don't quite recognize what I mean yet, Prince made a career out of singing in his Head Voice on songs like "Kiss" - whereas Michael Jackson has weirded people out for years by using his Head Voice as is Speaking Voice. (He's got a lower chest voice too, people like his ex-wife Lisa Marie Presley have said so - he just doesn't use it in public. Yeah, like I said - weird). Ok, here's where we get the meat of the discussion, most people have a "break" between the two voices. As someone sings higher and higher in their chest voice they will eventually reach a litterally stopping point, where they simply can't go any higher without switching into their head voice to hit the next note. Sometimes - well, actually usually - there's a gap between the two voices. It might be one note, it might be two or three notes on the scale depending on the person or their level of vocal training. That's the break point.

Without months and sometimes years or practice, most people simply can't sing those notes, they won't work. They can try, but until their voice matures they always wind up a little below or a little bit above the note. They literally can't hit the notes in between - they vocal chords won't do it. With training and practice singers can build a third voice to bridge the gap called the blend voice which uses part of the both the chest and head voice. It's like being in third and forth gear at the same time and rocking the clutch to maintain control. It takes practice, and if you haven't gotten used to doing it - you come out sounding exactly like Jill did on this performance.
Those "Tooo" notes were right on the edge of Jill's break point - while the notes above it she was attempting to do in blend voice, but she was "slipping the clutch and grinding the gears" between her head and chest voice which forced her to go sharp.

Or to put it another way - it sucked. I mean she wasn't all that far from nailing it, but she didn't nail it, and it's not something she's going to be able to learn how to do by the end of this show. It seems to me that Jill is usually able to cover this weakness up by simply screaming and/or growling which is a different way to created a blended sound in that really tough range. She's simply not used to singing without the growl and it shows. It's a weakness and it will probably come back to bite her later in this competition. Again Jill is good, but she' s no Amy Lee. I'd be perfectly happy if no one attempted this song again, because I expect all of them will fuck it up somehow.

While I'm on the issue of vocal training, let me also point out that Jason was absolutely correct about what he said to Lukas about crutching on the growl voice too much. He talked about James (Hetfield) who does the same thing, but he didn't mention that after 20+ years of doing it Jason blew his voice out one night and has had been using vocal warm up excersizes to protect his voice for over a decade. Just because Lukas has been doing it for 15 years so far doesn't mean he's not hurting himself by doing it "wrong" - and that one night his vocie just might suddenly disappear just like James'. There really is a wrong way to sing and a right way - one which doesn't damage your vocal chords and create nodes like Stevie Nicks and Jon Bon Jovi have had to deal with. Lukas is headed exactly in that direction unless he changes course.

©© Danny Moloshok / Blue Pixel for MBP 2006Zayra - well, Zayra is a mess - but I was actually surprised and impressed by her repeat performance of "You Really Got Me". I also have to say it was pretty damn ballsy to do the exact same song that got her put into the bottom three over again. If you have to convice people that you're better than they believe, how better to do that than to actually get better on the same song? And she may have done just that by actually hit the notes for the first time since she's been on this show. I wasn't sure she even knew how, but I guess that simply shows I don't know everything (which is not really a surprise). This performance was truly much, much better than "last night". She actually seemed to have some command of the stage too, who'da thunk it? No more geeky stage moves. Maybe after seeing Jill embarriss (sp) the crap out of her on "Bring me to life" she finally started to take this contest seriously, and figured that the cat-suit isn't going to help her claw through this contest? Maybe she rehearsed? I don't know, but it wasn't that bad. Jill was still better even with her pitch and voice issues - but then Jill was doing something really difficult so I can understand ignoring it. "You Really Got Me" is a pretty easy song - and for once she didn't fuck it up - but I'd still give points to Jill in comparison. Jill is good with the potential to be great, Zayra is shitty with the potential to be barely tolerable.

ChrisAnd then we come to Chris. Again we had someone doing a song that someone else had done just yesterday, in this case the Tonic song that was performed by Phil and frankly - he kicked the shit out of it. This type of song is tailor made for Chris and Phil's voices, but Chris showed that his tone isbetter and far less affected - and marble-mouthed - than Phil. His stage presence was understated by strong, he hit all the notes, said all the right words - had even had good tone. Of all three bottom performers he did the best job on the song he had, and he wasn't straining himself to do it - he did it easily and with confidence.

Yet in the end, the SN boys choose to let the better performer that night - Chris - leave the show. What the hell is up with that? I wouldn't have liked to see Jill leave so soon - she had loads of potential. And Zayra really shouldn't have gotten on the show in the first place based on everything we've seen so far, yet for some strange reason the SN boys seem really taken with her. Maybe it's the fact she looks hot in the catsuit, maybe it's the creepy way she keeps coming on to the boys -- "Would you teach me?" Ugh, so much like a horny groupie. But what's worse is the fact that they're responding. There's a whole lot a flirting going on at the Mayan, and it demeans everything they're trying to accomplish here. (Just remember to double-wrap boys.)

Funniest moment in the show: The three SN boys doing Rock.Paper.Scissors immediately after the final performance - probably IMO to determine who would be the "Hatchet Man".

At this point I really don't know what to think about what the SN guys are doing. I think Chris showed tonight that he's learned and grown enormously just in a week and that with that type of growth he absolutely could have fronted Supernova, just as did Toby displayed with his encore performance, but if these guys are going to be swayed by a tight-skirt - heaven help them.

Update: From reading the Rock Band Boards, which I don't look at until after I begin writing so that my own view isn't contaminated, there was the argument raised that Zayra's "spunk" and fiestyness is what swayed people. In last nights show she slammed back at SN when Gilby criticized her for "not owning any of their records" by saying "I was in diapers then". Ok, yeah -that's a good comeback, but my view is first and foremost based on Zayra completely ridiculous cringe worthy performance in the recording studio in the first reality show. This girl doesn't have it. She just barely got by this time simply because no one expect her to be able to do what she did - she's benefiting from "the soft bigotry of low expectations" and probably won't survive much longer, so don't even bother getting your hopes up and get off the Z-juice before it starts to curdle. There's a very thin line between fearlessness and cluelessness.

Vyan

Rep. Duncan Hunter : US too Soft on detainees

Despite the Hamdan Decision, the Rethuglicans still don't seem to understand what "Equal Protection of the Laws" means. From the AP.

WASHINGTON - The House Armed Services chairman, who advocates a tough stance on terrorist prisoner suspects, warned Wednesday against being too lax in prosecuting detainees.

Hunter said relying on the Pentagon's court-martial system could force the release of dangerous terrorists and put them back on the battlefield in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Which is code for saying the trying these people according to the law might mean that some of them will be found not guilty - even if they aren't guilty - and we can't have that, now can we?

In one sense, Hunter is at least partially correct - we have released some detainees from Gitmo only to run into them again back on the battlefield, at least according to right-wing sites like Brent Bozell's Media Research Center.

In her October 21 NBC Nightly News piece, Lisa Myers reported how Abdullah Mehsud is wanted for kidnappings in Pakistans. She asserted that "the Mehsud story is more than a bit embarrassing for the United States. Until last March, Mehsud was in prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, having been captured fighting with the Taliban in Afghanistan. However, a Pentagon review board decided to release him, ruling Mehsud was not a security threat."
Let's ignore for a moment the very strong likelyhood that even an innocent person who is subjected to torture at Gitmo is more likely to become a terrorist after such an experience, than they would have otherwise - but the fact is one guy showing back up in Afghanistan is not an epidemic for which we need to completely trash the Constitution. Where's the dis-insentive to keep people from hating our guts when we trash our own values for a petty sense of revenge? We already know many criminals are repeated offenders and you simply can't give life sentences or the death penalty for everything, it's just not practical. Why expect the terrorist situation to be different? It's only natural that some will be let go, either legitimately or mistakenly and that some of those will come back again for various reasons.

Then on the other hand we have cases of perfectly innocent people like Osama Moustafa Hassan Nasr, an Egyptian man who was apparently kidnapped by the CIA in Italy and rendered back to Egypt where he was tortured.

An Italian judge on Friday ordered the arrests of 13 CIA officers for secretly transporting the Muslim preacher to Egypt as part of U.S. anti-terrorism efforts -- a rare public objection to the practice by a close American ally.

The Egyptian was spirited away in 2003, purportedly as part of the CIA's "extraordinary rendition" program, which 60 Minutes reported on earlier this year, in which terror suspects are transferred to third countries without court approval, subjecting them to possible torture.

The BBC reports that critics have branded it "torture by proxy," to deport terror suspects to countries known to use torture.

Were we "too lax" with Nasr too? Apparently so, as he was eventually released and not U.S. is being sued over his treatment. Yep, We've just got too much darn due process in our Justice System according to Hunter.

Hunter's panel was conducting a hearing on the legal rights of detainees following a June 29 Supreme Court ruling that the Pentagon's planned military tribunal system violates international law. The debate comes just as election season is heating up, when both parties will try to appear strong on national security issues

The [recent SCOTUS] 5-to-3 ruling has prompted Congress to try to pass legislation authorizing the tribunals -- or an alternative before detainees could be prosecuted.

Hunter, in opening remarks at the hearing, suggested that Congress must not grant detainees access to the military's courts-martial system because it would afford them certain rights, such as immediately being informed of charges against them and immediate access to legal counsel.

And you know you just can't trust those slimey trial attorneys - even if they happen to be uniform like Lt. Cmd Swift, who is now expecting to soon be out of a gig.

And the Facism just keep getting thicker. Back to Hunter...

Some Democrats have contended that the Pentagon should rely on the courts-martial system -- a suggestion opposed by the administration, which contends doing so would expose sensitive information and hinder interrogations.

But I thought we didn't use "torturous, degrading or humiliating" interrogations methods? I thought that the DTA (Detainee Treatment Act) of 2005 banned all that? (Except of course, for the fact that it didn't).

Here's the real problem, just as the DOJ has put forth the ridiculous suggestion that Hamdan doesn't mean that the Terrorist Surveillance Program is illegal, the deep seated need to keep the sources of their information secret have nothing to do with protecting our methods other than the fact that the methods used to gather this information have been, and continue to be illegal under the rules either of Crimnal law or a Military Court Marshall (As has been pointed out by Reddhedd at FDL, in regards to the evidence gather via unwarranted NSA wiretap). All of that NSA evidence, and any evidence discovered as result of that information is inadmissable in court as "fruits of the poison tree". The same principle applies to evidence gathered using coercion at Gitmo or elsewhere. Article 31 of the Uniform Code of Military Justice states.

(a) No person subject to this chapter may compel any person to incriminate himself or to answer any questions the answer to which may tend to incriminate him.

(b) No person subject to this chapter may interrogate, or request any statement from an accused or a person suspected of an offense without first informing him of the nature of the accusation and advising him that he does not have to make any statement regarding the offense of which he is accused or suspected and that any statement made by him may be used as evidence against him in a trial by court-martial.

(c) No person subject to this chapter may compel any person to make a statement or produce evidence before any military tribunal if the statement or evidence in not material to the issue and may tend to degrade him.

(d) No statement obtained from any person in violation of this article, or through the use of coercion, unlawful influence, or unlawful inducement may be received in evidence against him in a trial by court-martial.

This is what Hunter is complaining about. According to him, we can't protect the rights of the accused and succesfully protect this country, but here's the rub - if we've failed to protect the rights of the accused, whether innocent of guilty of the charges, we've already failed to protect the country from people like Hunter.

Vyan

Wednesday, July 12

Rock Star Supernova: Week 2 Performances

Well, this week is was actually busy on tuesday night and didn't get to see Episode 2 of Rock Star on CBS, but I did watch both the Reality Show and Web Performance on the site - so my perspective this week is decided focused. I didn't see any of the excess, no chit-chat between the SN boys and the hamsters on the wheel, no comments or feed back, just the preparation for the show and the results.

One thing about seeing the show this way is that my impressions are pure - I don't have the tendency to have my feelings and views batted to and fro by what the band says, or what other commentators have said. I've read none of the other write-ups on any other site - not yet, only my wife has given me a spoiler that "that Zayra chick really got clowned". More on that later.

Watching the webcast of the performances the first up was Magni, and his verion of The Who's "My Generation" was strong and impressive. He seemed real self assured and pulled off the vocal very well. It didn't blow my socks off or make my fingers tingle, but it was decent and without major flaws.

Jenny was second and I was expecting a repeat of her head-on collision with last weeks Nickleback song, but she did fine on her version of "Tainted Love". It had a little bit of the Marilyn Manson vibe going at the begining but veared off nicely to become it's own thing without echoing either Manson or Soft Cell's original. In the reality show Jenny had made quite a big deal about Lukas comments that she her performance on week one was "weak" and had assumed that those comments were some strategy on his part - but no, she was weak last time - this time she was better.

Jill - the tiny Italian powerhouse - was not very whelming on Violet. Well, in a way she was if her goal was to do a Courtney Love impression. She delivered that wonderfully, including the Baby-Doll dress and Madonna-ish crawling around on the floor, so we got a fine upskirt shot (ala Courtney with Madonna on the MTV awards). It's a weird thing to listen to a good singer do a song by a bad singer. I can't say that she was "pitchy" because she was doing what Courtney does, which - to play a little musical inside baseball for moment - is to actually sing the song modally (using notes between the regular 12-tone "doe ray me" scale). Normally people doing that just sound like crap, but sometimes - sometimes it works. Sometimes you can miss the notes and still land on your feet, Trent Reznor is a master at this, and in many ways so is Courtney. Hearing Jill do it, particular after she belted the shit out of Janis Joplin last week actually sounds a bit forced. Her tendency is to actually hit the notes and when you have to deliberately miss them, it sounds strange - at least to my ear. Overall I thought her performance was technically great, maybe even better on technical grounds because of how she had to fight against her own habits, but I don't know if the overall effect was the same. It was good I guess, but I would have like to see more Jill and less of her channelling someone else for once, be it Janice or Courtney. A band like Supernova doesn't need a chameloen, who is a second best version of everyone else - they need the first and best version of Jill!

03_31_06_1544.jpg
Ira from Metal Church (left) with Brian O'Connor (Vicious Rumours) in Hollywood
Zayra during the reality show looked like a freight train headed for a mountainside painted over to look like a tunnel. Wham! In rehearsal she was just completely, totally fucking lost. On the show she was a little bit better than I expect, but still terrible. After the way she sounded in the studio on the first reality episode - where I literally fell out of my chair laughing - I knew this was a disaster just waiting for a return receipt. I was right. This time she destroyed "You Really Got Me" and it's pretty difficult to fuck up a song that David Lee Roth has previously failed to fuck up - but she did. Watching this girl sing is like watching a hyper-active poodle jump up and down going "Yip... Yip...Yip". I'm pretty sure I saw some of the hamster in the bullpen falling over themselves laughing this time too. It was just too fucking pathetic. HOW. DID. THIS. BINT. GET. ON. THIS. SHOW! Is she the token chica or what? I'm serious, this is Bull and SHIT. At the Hollywood audition was the former lead singer of the metal band Vicious Rumours - Brian O'Connor. I know that Supernova isn't going to be Metal band, but the idea that Brian - whose a fantastic singer - got the boot and this freaking poodle-in-a-bodysuit wound up on the show just melts my cerebrum. Oy vey!

Chris doing "Take Me Out" was good. During the reality show he seemed like he was in trouble, but I think he pulled it out. Unfortunately this song, just like his previous performance of Roxanne, tended to show the limitations of his voice. Unlike that song, this one was pretty undemanding and actually fit his style pretty well, but he's going to have major problems if he has to jump out of his niche again.

Dilana's Ring of Fire was cool. She definately has an eerie vibe going, and brought that to this version of the Johnny Cash hit, making it sound almost like a track from his final Trent Reznor produced album. She also did well to create a sense of stage prescence without being overly dramatic and affected. A little pitchy at the beginning but a strong finish.

Phil's performance of the Tonic song was a step up from last week. He actually bothered to enunciate this time, so you actually discerne words and syllabals and stuff. He, like Chris, has a very affected vocal style, which actually reminds me quite a bit of Jeff Buckley but without Jeff's fantastic falsetto control. Phil definately has potential, but again like Chris and unlike Jill, his stylings are more limiting than expansive. Phil as a choice for Supernova shuts down their options rather than opens them up.

Storm, is as I've said, my nominal NorCal favorite - and I think her performance this time on Cheap Trick's "Surrender" was as strong as last weeks "Pinball Wizard" even if I really wasn't feeling the pig-tail look at all. She seems to be staking out the lower register and becoming on of the two Dueling Altos (cue the banjo music) with Dilana. Both of them have strong voices, which at times sound like men - but their stage styles are very distinctive. After years of making small stages look big in the clubs Storm is all ARENA ROCK, which fits well with Supernova's aims - but I think she's going to have to find a way to bring some more character to the table in order to match up with with Dilana and some of the others on this show. There's more to this than simply being the Arena Rock Chick (tm)!

Ryan on "Jumping Jack Flash" looked lost on stage - at least during the first verse, then he seem to go out into the audience and find himself as he came back strong for the second verse and chorus. It wasn't a bad performance, but again - not knock your socks off great. Feh.

Patrice, who last week did an awesome job on the Jefferson Airplane song "Want somebody to love" was practically terrible this week. First of all she was pitchy during the first verse until she found herself during the chorus. Playing guitar along with the band is cool, but it's also limiting - you can't move around the stage unless you wear one of those little Brittany head-phone mics (which don't work worth crap - hence all the lip-syncing) . I guess Patrice mostly suffers on this song in comparison to Jordis performance of it from last year. Jordis tore it up, and really pulled out the angst and passion of the tune, but Patrice sung it almost too prettily for any of that to come throuhg. She was probably wise not to try and duplicate Jordis' or Cobains version too closely, but I'm not sure what she came up with really stood on it's own as anything more than pedestrian.

Lukas doing the Coldplay was ok, but feh. My main problem with Glamour Boy is that he's just too damn glam all the time and the eye-glitter was just inappropriate for this song. Sure, I guess that's his schtick, but over the top much? His aim in taking a lower energy song from the Reality Show was to showcase a different side of his style, and I don't think he accomplished that. He showed that he can sing without growling for 15 seconds, but that's about it. His normal un-angsty voice is no great shakes, it is was - this would have been cool, but it wasn't. Also his tendency to kick into growl-man cause him to foreshadow his knock-out punch at the climax of the song -- you don't give away the ending before you're halfway through the story or it falls flat, and that's just what this performance did. A little restraint, a little more nuance and a teeny tiny bit more taste - and this could have been a killer performance, but it wasn't.

Dana, the Country Kitten is so out of place on this show. She has a great voice, if it's a little weak in the lower registers, but this performance of "Born to be Wild" was not happening. This is a real Biker Song, it's not for moped riding wanna-be's in their big sisters leather skirt. This was Vegas, as Ty was so often accused of last year, it was lounge singer. Y'know the people who don't get to the big stage and instead wind up singing to the drunk losers at the bar, who are interested in looking up their skirt than listen to their vocal stylings. She sang song great technically, but it was just way more American Idol-atry than Rock Star. Lukas need to give away some of his excess vocal grit, and Dana could certainly use some of it.

Josh and Toby's songs weren't included on the website, so I didn't get to see them which is a bummer and drag, but oh well - what can you do?

I don't have the full perspective this time and in some ways I still think that might have been a good thing, but I have what I have.

Until the Elimination Show tonight - Hasta.

Vyan

Beltway Wonks heading for HotSoup on the Web

It seems the Beltway types are just itching to get out on the Internets and show us rubes how it's done by attempting a new bi-partisan opinion site. Yeah, that's a nice oxymoron isn't it?

WASHINGTON - A bipartisan group of prominent political strategists on Tuesday announced an Internet information venture designed to interact with America's opinion leaders and serve as an antidote to the right-left clash that typifies political discourse on the Web.

The site, called Hotsoup.com, will debut in October and will be edited by Ron Fournier, former chief political writer for The Associated Press.
Some of the heavy hittings involved in this soon to be flambe' are:
Hotsoup is the brainchild of some of the best-known practitioners of partisan politics in Washington, including Matthew Dowd, chief strategist for the Bush-Cheney campaign in 2004, and Joe Lockhart, former White House press secretary under President Clinton and a senior adviser to Democratic Sen.
John Kerry's 2004 presidential campaign
.

Despite their political backgrounds and distinct party affiliations, Hotsoup founders said the site will provide a nonpartisan forum not just for politics, but for topics ranging from science to popular culture, from business to current affairs.

"We all share the belief that partisanship is largely driven by a debate that lacks information and lacks context, and we think this community can provide both of those things," Lockhart said.

The effort is ambitious and risky, using the Internet to create an online social network similar to the popular teenage Web retreat MySpace.com. Hotsoup's target audience will be opinion leaders around the country who use the Internet to help make up their minds.
I've already made up my mind, this venture is likely to be either a) a vapid tame apologist site for the GOP with the same phony "Fairly UnBalanced" presentations of the news and facts, with Right-wing attack dogs and Fauxmacrat poodles we've become accustomed to on MSNBC, CNN and FOX or b) It'll be one big ongoing cesspoll of flame wars.

And I'm betting on option two.

Vyan

Monday, July 10

23% of us are Fucked

Tonight former Nixon White House Counsel John Dean discussed his intriguing new book "Conservatives without Consciences" as the lead story on Keith Olbermann. In it he described how his discussions with the late Barry Goldwater, the nominal father of the modern conservative movement, evolved from talking about just how far afield that movement has grown to a discussion of how authoritarianism has crept in and taken over the Republican Party.

Sparked by Goldwater, Dean continued to research on the subject with various scholars looking into the psychology of authorianism and found a wealth of information on the subject.

Acording to his findings, a vast majority of Conservatives are drawn into the Leader/Follower archetype, where the Leaders are considered infallable, and the loyalty of the Followers is completely unshakable. About "23% of the populace falls into the follower category" said Dean. "These people are impervious" to fact, rationality and reality. And their "Numbers are growing".

Let's just face it, 23% of us are basically fucked in the head.

Video and Transcript of the Segment.

I'm looking forward to reading Dean's book in full, but just the glimmers presented on Olbermann were both shocking and at the same time, quite familiar. We've seen this story before in Nazi Germany and Soviet Russia. There is always the patsy, the scapegoat - the one true source of all of societies ills. In those societies it was the jews or those greedy imperialist Americans.

Now, it's the Liberals.

Liberals and all the other societal hangers-on and scum they try to protect. Gays who insist on the "special" right of marrying the consenting adult of their choice. Uppity Women in the workplace, who won't remember their place in the kitchen and bedroom. Blacks who want hand-outs in order to jump to the head of the line, immigrants who simply can't seem to wait their turn to be exploited for ridiculously low wages and lack of health-care. And lastly weak-kneed bleeding hearts who think dirty terrorist slime deserve the equal protection of the laws. Hmph.

Also tonight while Olbermann was speaking with Dean on the issue of just how close to full-on Totalitarianism this country is gradually tipping - Bill O'Reilly was speaking with two Fox's heavily fact-challenged Military Analysts, Gen. McInerny and Col David Hunt who proclaimed that both Bob Herbert of the NY Times and California Senator Barbara Boxer were "blatantly lying about our troops in Iraq". Herbert had written an Op-ed which indicated that Neo-Nazi's and Skinhead have begun infiltrating the Military, while Boxer had stated that incidents of PTSD have increased in our Military and that incidents of soldiers taking anti-depressents being sent into combat have increased, as have the number of suicides among our troops.

Unfortunately for O'Reilly, McInerny and Hunt the source of the Neo-Nazi and Skinhead has been the Military itself as document by the Southern Poverty Law Center via the New York Times.

July 7, 2006 -- Before the U.S. military made Matt Buschbacher a Navy SEAL, he made himself a soldier of the Fourth Reich.

Before Forrest Fogarty attended Military Police counter-insurgency training school, he attended Nazi skinhead festivals as lead singer for the hate rock band Attack.

And before Army engineer Jon Fain joined the invasion of Iraq to fight the War on Terror, the neo-Nazi National Alliance member fantasized about fighting a war on Jews.

"Ever since my youth -- when I watched WWII footage and saw how well-disciplined and sharply dressed the German forces were -- I have wanted to be a soldier," Fain said in a Winter 2004 interview with the National Alliance magazine Resistance. "Joining the American military was as close as I could get."

And the source of the anti-depressant and suicide story is also problematic for O'Reilly and his cohorts since it's also the military via ABC News.
The Hartford Courant, citing records obtained under the federal Freedom of Information Act and more than 100 interviews of families and military personnel, reported numerous cases in which the military failed to follow its own regulations in screening, treating and evacuating mentally unfit troops from Iraq.

Twenty-two U.S. troops committed suicide in Iraq last year, accounting for nearly one in five of all non-combat deaths and the highest suicide rate since the war started, the newspaper said.

Some service members who committed suicide in 2004 and 2005 were kept on duty despite clear signs of mental distress, sometimes after being prescribed antidepressants with little or no mental health counseling or monitoring, the Courant reported. Those findings conflict with regulations adopted last year by the Army that caution against the use of antidepressants for "extended deployments."

"I can't imagine something more irresponsible than putting a soldier suffering from stress on (antidepressants), when you know these drugs can cause people to become suicidal and homicidal," said Vera Sharav, president of the Alliance for Human Research Protection, a New York-based advocacy group. "You're creating chemically activated time bombs."

To O'Rielly, this is all just defeatist talk designed to undermine the morale and willpower of our troops. To him, it's ridiculous to point out that our troops morale is already in the shitter - because then you'd have to actually do something about it. To Hunt, "This is the finest fighting force America has ever had, over 2/3rd of our troops are re-enlisting and our National Guard are gaining invaluable field experience and expertise". One wonders just what they might plan to do with that expertise in the future?

According to O'Reilly the killing of 25 civilians in Haditha is just a "random" occurance - it's just the way "War is fought" - sometimes civilians get hurt and somethings "War Crimes Happen". O'Reilly has yet to either apologize or set the record straight for his Malmedy misnomer - where he tried to white-wash Haditha by claiming that U.S. Soldiers in WWII murdered unarmed SS Soldiers even though the truth is that the U.S. Soldiers where the ones unarmed and murdered in cold blood.

And although he has spent incredible level of energy promoting Jessica's Law in an apparent effort to protect children from sexual predators, he's said precious little about the rape and murder of 15-year-old Iraqi girl, and her entire family.

To O'Reilly everyone is a liar.

"I can't base my opinion" about the Iraq war "on anything" other than "what my military analysts, people paid by Fox News, say to me." O'Reilly added that he could trust only Fox military analysts because "[t]he newspapers ... all have an agenda" and "only give you a snapshot of the war."

How's this for a snapshot.
Iraq in Turmoil

Iraq-Turmoil1-Nic-Robertson.jpgIraq-turmoil.jpg

More soldiers charged with murder and Nic Robertson reports on the violence that is sweeping through Iraq.

Video -WMP Video -QT

Well over a hundred civilian casualties today…

Other authoritarian boot-lickers like Fred Barnes continue the drum beat of happy talk.
THERE'S JOY at the White House again and less anxiety among Republicans in Congress. The excesses of the press and Supreme Court are bringing Bush and rebellious conservatives closer together. Iraq is better off. The American economy is humming. The White House has made no harmful missteps. And the president's job approval rating is rising.

The war is unpopular, but it has nonetheless helped the Bush recovery in three ways. First, the killing of the terrorist Zarqawi and the formation of a permanent Iraqi government were encouraging developments. Second, the president punctuated his support for the new government with a surprise visit to Iraq, and he's gone on the offensive again in speeches defending his policy. On July 4, he told soldiers at Fort Bragg, North Carolina, he won't allow the death of 2,527 troops in Iraq "to be in vain by pulling out before the job is done." Third, Democrats have fumbled the Iraq issue.
The point here is that these people have no serious interest in fact or reality. As Lt. Col Karen Kwaitkoski stated - neo-cons "have a collective contempt for fact". Facts get in the way of all their big plans. Simply pointing out the failures of few soldiers is somehow attacking everyone in the military - and rather than addressing these problems, the authoritarian neo-cons would prefer that we just shut-up about them. Silence is Golden, in their world. And anyone who breaks the silence and spoils the Happy Talk Parade, deserves to be savaged and shown no mercy. Cue right-wing attack bitch Mann Coulter

And 23% of us are their willing partners in their flights of fancy. 23% of us not only don't question all the nonesense they spew, they welcome it. They desperately want to believe the New York Times simply hates America, that's why it's so desperate to "hurt our troops". The idea that a lack of armor, proper helmets, health care cuts, drinking contaminated water and being sent into a War zone based on bad policy, bad faith and lies might be somewhat more harmful than anything the New York Times might do or so - doesn't even enter the equation.

23% of us don't even begin to make the connection and never will. They're addicted to this shit, it doesn't matter how much the facts smack them in the forehead - they simply shake it off and keep propping up their little tin gods.

Dean suggests that the best we can do is recognize these people for who and what they are, but I think that's the least we can do. I think we need to confront these people at every turn, to face up to there puffed-up Alpha-male bully bullshit and take them down.

Bullies can be beaten, they can be stopped - particularly when the other 77% of us finally decide to get off the fence, stand up and do something about them.

Vyan

Sunday, July 9

NSA and Data Mining used to Purge Voter Roles?

Yeah, I know full well how much the idea seems to be full on tin foil hattery, and tiring it can be for the left to constantly be crying foul everytime they lose an election.

What a bunch of crybabies!

Maybe if they actually had some ideas, people might vote for them.

Yeah, I get that. But hold your disbelief for a moment and read, really read what Greg Palast has to say in the Guardian.

There's something rotten in Mexico. And it smells like Florida. The ruling party, the Washington-friendly National Action Party (Pan), proclaimed yesterday their victory in the presidential race, albeit tortilla thin, was Mexico's first "clean" election. But that requires we close our eyes to some very dodgy doings in the vote count that are far too reminiscent of the games played in Florida in 2000 by the Bush family. And indeed, evidence suggests that Team Bush had a hand in what may be another presidential election heist.

Just before the 2000 balloting in Florida, I reported in the Guardian that its governor, Jeb Bush, had ordered the removal of tens of thousands of black citizens from the state's voter rolls. He called them "felons", but our investigation discovered their only crime was Voting While Black. And that little scrub of the voter rolls gave the White House to his brother George.Jeb's winning scrub list was the creation of a private firm, ChoicePoint of Alpharetta, Georgia. Now, it seems, ChoicePoint is back in the voter list business - in Mexico - at the direction of the Bush government.
This same strategy of purging black voters, who overwhelming vote Democratic, was also used in Ohio 2004 as shown by Robert J. Kennedy Jr's report from Rolling Stone - a cconclusion that is strongly supported by independant research data.
Over 900 provisional ballots may have been wrongfully rejected because of database problems alone. Between 624 and 938 rejected provisional ballots, mostly classified as “not registered”, were apparently mistakenly purged from the registration lists, or involved other clerical errors in searching or entering data. Since this error was detected by only one type of search, which did not detect other voters who reported similar errors, the true number of provisional ballots wrongfully rejected is likely to be higher. We estimate that 2 out of every 5 provisional ballots that were rejected should have been accepted as legitimate. If we combine incorrectly purged provisional votes, projected votes rejected because of initial registration errors, provisional ballots lost through polling place misinformation and innocent errors filling out the provisional application, it appears that over 41% of rejected provisional ballots (or 14% of all provisional votes) may have been unnecessarily rejected. We estimate that simply changing residence exposes voters to a 6% chance of being disenfranchised. Youth, the poor, and minorities are disproportionately affected. In fact, with respect to just provisional ballots, we found a two-fold increase in rejection rate in predominantly African-American compared to predominantly Caucasian precincts.
Now it appears that what occured in Florida and Ohio has been repeated in Mexico - with a little help from Choicepoint.

As we found in Florida in 2000, my investigations team on the ground in Mexico City this week found voters in poor neighbourhoods, the left's turf, complaining that their names were "disappeared" from the voter rolls. ChoicePoint can't know what use the Bush crew makes of its lists. But erased registrations require us to ask, before this vote is certified, was there a purge as there was in Florida?

Notably, ruling party operatives carried registration lists normally in the hands of elections officials only. (In Venezuela in 2004, during the special election to recall President Hugo Chavez, I saw his opponents consulting laptops with voter lists. Were these the purloined FBI files? The Chavez government suspects so but, victorious, won't press the case.)
So here's the real question, as posed by this dkos diary, regarding our own upcoming 2006 and 2008 elections. Exactly what has the U.S. Government been doing with those Data-Mining files involving the phone-call and email contacts of tens of millions of Americans? Have they shared any of that data with any subcontractors - like Choicepoint? It's it possible to use this information to pinpoint leftist agitators and have their names mysteriously dropped from the voting roles in states with tightly contested races? Just as we saw in Florida, Ohio and it seems Mexico?

We already know that thousands of Americans have been investigated by the FBI based on NSA tips which have lead to dead ends. What happens to those big thick FBI files once the investigation is over?

The sad part isn't just that this is perfectly plausible considering the lengths to which the Right-wing has already gone to grab and maintain power - it's that it far more likely to get worse, with opposition growing to renewing the Voting Rights Act, than it is to get better. Is that farfetched? How farfetched is it compared to the Phony Filegate Scandal from the Clinton era?

Vyan