Friday, July 21

Has the Rapture already begun?

I ask this quite seriously and for completely different reasons than I postulated that the current mid-east conflict might lead to Armageddon. (Without either Ben Affleck or Liv Tyler in sight)

No, I simply watched the Tom Brokaw special on Global Warming last week and it's led me to this question.

I'm not particularly religious, nor am I a sreligious scholar. I'm not a scientist either. I'm just a person asking a question, and I think the answer could be quite frightening to all of us regardless of our theocratic persuasion when we simply look at the facts and science regarding the condition of our world and the very rapid changes that we face in the very near future.

First, let define some terms - wether the End Times and the Rapture are in fact real, it has become quite clear that Global Warming is very real and leading this world toward something called The Sixth Mass Extinction.

Otherwise known as Death - the first Horseman of the Apocolypse.

There still remain many like Peggy Noonan who would prefer to promote the idea that Global Warming is merely a myth.

From Think Progress:

In today's Wall Street Journal, Peggy Noonan asks why all the top scientists can't get together and decide if global warming is real:

During the past week's heat wave-it hit 100 degrees in New York City Monday-I got thinking, again, of how sad and frustrating it is that the world's greatest scientists cannot gather, discuss the question of global warming, pore over all the data from every angle, study meteorological patterns and temperature histories, and come to a believable conclusion on these questions: Is global warming real or not? If it is real, is it necessarily dangerous?

Actually, Ms. Noonan, that's already happened. It's called the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), which involves thousands of scientists from over 120 countries who develop detailed reports on climate change. Their most recent report (from 2001) was reviewed by more than 1,000 top experts, including so-called "climate skeptics" and representatives from industry. Here's what they concluded:

There is new and stronger evidence that most of the warming observed over the last 50 years is attributable to human activities.

The IPCC predicts that global warming will increase temperatures worldwide between 2.5 and 10.4 degrees Fahrenheit between 1990 and 2100 if no action is taken to reduce greenhouse gases. This amount of warming, according to the IPCC, could raise sea levels by as much as three feet. That's extraordinarily dangerous.



Many people - but obviuosly not Noonan - have found the images of Manhattan underwater from "An Inconvenient Truth" chilling, but what about what's already occured?

Severe weather pattern changes have already turned Chinese Farmland into deserts, have bleached sections of the Great Barrier Reef, created massive floods in Indonesia and even New England, Islands in the South Pacific have literally begun to disappear while draught conditions have appeared in the South American Rain Forest, the "Lungs of the Planet". More and more Crops around the world will die from lack of water and the ever increasing heat, leaving massive dust bowls in their wake.

That's called Famine.

More from Think Progress:

Scientists say earth is losing species "faster than at any time since 65 million years ago" as a result of human activity.

The ability of Polar Bears in Greenland to feed succesfully prior to Winter Hibernation has been severely curtailed due to collapse of the ice sheath on which they hunt. As weather patterns change many species will have to migrate to new hunting/grazing grounds by geographic barriers - oceans, mountains and human civilization - will prevent many from finding these new fertile ground. We're already seeing examples of this in Florida as Alligators from the Everglades have begun to migrate into human areas and attack people more and more frequently.

If this continues the food chain may eventually become broken. Many species will be face extinction, while the population of others will begin to explode particularly insects and birds who may lose their natural predators. The likelyhood of diseases spread by these overabundant animals (West Nile Virus, Malaria, Bird Flu) will also increase bringing us ever closer to a global pandemic.

That's Pestilence.

Now all we need is a War...., particularly one right in the middle of the Holy Land.

Check!.

On the religious side of the equation, the first thing to note is that "The Rapture" isn't literally mentioned in the Bible. During a section on the Resurrection of Jesus Christ, John 20:19-21, states the following:

19 Then on that same first day of the week, when it was evening, though the disciples were behind closed doors for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood among them and said, Peace to you!

20 So saying, He showed them His hands and His side. And when the disciples saw the Lord, they were filled with joy (delight, exultation, ecstasy, rapture).

21 Then Jesus said to them again, Peace to you! [Just] as the Father has sent Me forth, so I am sending you.

This clearly is not exactly the Rapture that many who believe fervently in The End Times are speaking of. They are speaking of Revelations, and the moment when the true Children of God are called home - by the sound of Seven Loud trumpet blasts.


6Then the seven angels who had the seven trumpets prepared to sound them.

7The first angel sounded his trumpet, and there came hail and fire mixed with blood, and it was hurled down upon the earth. A third of the earth was burned up, a third of the trees were burned up, and all the green grass was burned up.

The best description of a Ball fo Fire mixed with Blood that I can think of, and have considered for some time - even mentioning it once when calling in to the Randi Rhodes show - is the ball of fire that the Twin World Trade center towers turned into on September 11th as they fell to the ground.

The sound of this first trumpet is intended to mark the beginning of The Tribulations, the seven years of darkness before God returns to reclaim earth as his kingdom.

If this is to be taken literally - which I don't - we are already in year number four of the Tribulations.

We get to the heart of the matter - the second trumpet.

8The second angel sounded his trumpet, and something like a huge mountain, all ablaze, was thrown into the sea. A third of the sea turned into blood, 9a third of the living creatures in the sea died, and a third of the ships were destroyed.

My first impression of this is that it sounds like a meteor striking the ocean, but the "seas ablaze" line could also describe the bleaching effect of gradual global warming, which could also kill many of the seas living creatures.

Some of this is already happening.

10The third angel sounded his trumpet, and a great star, blazing like a torch, fell from the sky on a third of the rivers and on the springs of water-- 11the name of the star is Wormwood.[a] A third of the waters turned bitter, and many people died from the waters that had become bitter.

"Wormwood" in Russian is Chernobyl. A nuclear accident which contaminated the air and water. This too, has already happened.

12The fourth angel sounded his trumpet, and a third of the sun was struck, a third of the moon, and a third of the stars, so that a third of them turned dark. A third of the day was without light, and also a third of the night.

If horn number three isn't Chernobyl, but is instead a limited nuclear exchange (Bunker-Buster Bombs hitting Iran?) there would be dust thrown into the area to create a temporary "nuclear winter" which would fit this description.

Again, much of this is highly speculative - and many Christians disagree as to exactly what the Tribulations are and how they relate to the Rapture - but my own impression is that shit doesn't get really funky until after this point.

13As I watched, I heard an eagle that was flying in midair call out in a loud voice: "Woe! Woe! Woe to the inhabitants of the earth, because of the trumpet blasts about to be sounded by the other three angels!"

The good news is that we have some time left, both before supposed Rapture and before we reach the Rubicon of no return on Global Warming. There are things we can do now, even if people like Noonan remain deliberately ignorant of them.

Noonan also laments that, if global warming is real, scientists won't tell us what we need to do in response. Actually, they've done that too.

If global warming is real, and if it is new, and if it is caused not by nature and her cycles but man and his rapacity, and if it in fact endangers mankind, scientists will probably one day blame The People for doing nothing.

But I think The People will have a greater claim to blame the scientists, for refusing to be honest, for operating in cliques and holding to ideologies. For failing to be trustworthy.

Actually, the blame should go to people like Peggy Noonan who give our leaders the political cover to do nothing in the face of overwhelming scientific evidence.

I myself am not entirely decided on the accuracy of any of the Revelation Prophesies. I see much of the Bible as parable, filled with stories and fables which were passed down orally for generations (and were embellished in each re-telling) which are intended to be instructional - not literal. Did Jonah actually live inside the belly of a whale? Was the entire earth covered in a flood that Noah managed to avoid and successfully protected enough animals inside an Ark to regenerate the entire biosphere?

I'm not saying there wasn't an Ark or that there wasn't a deluge -- some science tends to indicate there was -- but two each of every single living creature?

Are you fucking kidding me?

If you can believe that, you might was well believe in aliens named Xanthu who are coming to save us from ourselves... or something like that.

Still, Belief is a powerful thing and I don't intend to mock it - I only intend to point out that the lessons and value of books like the Bible may sometimes be lost if we look to closely and miss the broader point.

When St. John wrote Revelations, it was during a time when Christianity was a fledgling religion battling against the broad power of the Roman Empire. Many historians have pointed out that his mentioning of "666" being the "mark of the beast" coincides with the manner in which Roman Currency under Ceasar was marked. His "Great Satan", which would eventually be overcome by the Kingdom of God may have very well been the Roman Empire itself. In this context, Revelations can be seen as a rousing adventure story - where there is much drama and conflict, but in the end the Good Guys win and receive their just reward of every lasting peace and happiness, while the bad guys get what's coming to them.

It's a like John Wayne Film during WWII such as "The Fighting Sea Bee's", although it could also be seen as deliberate propoganda as his later Vietnam era film "The Green Berets".

Heck, it's practically a Bruckheimer production. All we need now is for someone to write a book about it, then maybe find some under utilized, but highly "pure and virtuous", young star to make it into a film series. Somebody like Kurt Cameron.

Yeah... that would work great.

And while we keep everyone distracted, that pesky Global Warming problem will just continue to fester -- until finally we get what we really truly want.

Hell on Earth.

Hallelujah. Praise the Lord and pass the tax cuts.

But seriously folks - and here's the zinger - if the Rapture is already occuring and the people who've been called home were those in the World Trade Center Towers, those people who drowned and starved in the Gulf Region following Hurricane Katrina, and those people who were killed by the Indonesian Tsunami, then most of the neo-con/christo-fascists who are the most desperate to bring on the End Times have already missed the exit ramp -- and are going to be stuck here, Left Behind with the rest of us.

Hmm, I guess the bad guys really are going to get what they deserve - to be trapped here in the Tribulations with the rest of us! And maybe if they realized this, they just might realize this entire "End Times" thing isn't such a good idea after all, ya think?

Vyan

80% of Republicans are just uninformed Democrats?

That incredible claim was made yesterday by Robert F Kennedy Jr. during an interview with Bradblog.

80% of Republicans are just Democrats who don't know what's going on. And my anecdotal conclusion was confirmed by a survey done immediately after the 2004 election called the PIPA report (PDF), which tested Bush supporters and Kerry supporters based upon their knowledge of current events.

For example, 75% of the Republican respondents believed that Saddam Hussein bombed the World Trade Center, and 72% believed that WMD had been found in Iraq. And most of them believed that the war in Iraq had strong support among Iraq's Muslim neighbors and our traditional allies in Europe, which of course is wrong. The Democrats as a whole had a much more accurate view of those events.

Yeah, I think we do. The question is, just what should and can we do about a little lost subconsciously Democratic brethen, trapped in the Red-State of Mind?

Ok, first we have to answer - just where is all this bad information coming from? (As if we don't already know...)

PIPA went back twice to these same people. The first time it went back to the people that had these misinterpretations, and asked them where they were getting their news, and invariably they said talk radio and FOX news.

Yes, as I've said before - Faux News and Right-Wing Radio ensures that the Republican Party is populated with Mushroom People who are kept in the dark and fed nothing but crap.

And the truth is, 23% Percent of the nation is probably beyond reaching according to research uncovered by John Dean.

Oh but if they could be reached, wouldn't that be something?

What if?

PIPA went back a third time, and made inquiries about their fundamental values, and it started with a string of hypotheticals:

"What if there were no weapons of mass destruction in Iraq? What if Saddam Hussein had nothing to do with bombing the World Trade Center? What if the U.S. Invasion of Iraq had little support among Iraq's Muslim neighbors and was largely opposed by Iraq's Muslim neighbors, and by our troops and allies in Europe? Should we have still gone in?"

Roughly 80% of Dem and 80% of Rep said the same thing, "We should not." And so the values were the same. It was the facts, the information, it was the access to information that was different.

I actually beg to differ with RFK on this. It's not just access to information, I believe their is also a choice involved. Plenty of information which shows that the above hypotheticals are in fact - THE TRUTH - yet, these people continue to support policies and actions which are in direct contradiction to the facts. Classic neo-conism, as Lt Col. Karen Kwaitkowski long ago pointed out - "Neo-cons have a collective contempt for fact."

But it goes even deeper than that - facts are their enemies, as is reality itself. As New York Times Reporter Ron Suskind wrote in 2004 concerning his experience with Bush Administration insiders.

In the summer of 2002, after I had written an article in Esquire that the White House didn't like about Bush's former communications director, Karen Hughes, I had a meeting with a senior adviser to Bush. He expressed the White House's displeasure, and then he told me something that at the time I didn't fully comprehend - but which I now believe gets to the very heart of the Bush presidency.

The aide said that guys like me were "in what we call the reality-based community," which he defined as people who "believe that solutions emerge from your judicious study of discernible reality." I nodded and murmured something about enlightenment principles and empiricism. He cut me off. "That's not the way the world really works anymore," he continued. "We're an empire now, and when we act, we create our own reality. And while you're studying that reality - judiciously, as you will - we'll act again, creating other new realities, which you can study too, and that's how things will sort out. We're history's actors . . . and you, all of you, will be left to just study what we do."

This is the mentality - that reality is maleable. A plaything for the bold to shape and change. These people are in the business of the recreative design of our daily lives and world. The facts are merely obstacles to be dodged or bowled over.

This is why you see the long and relentless litany of lies and distortions coming from the Right and their allies in the media - which David Brock's Media Matters dutifully documents.

If Kennedy were correct the facts revealed daily by that site alone should be enough to significant shift the electoral balance. But of course, the neo-cons have a strategy in place to blunt this impact. It's called "Blame the Messenger".

Just look at this current front page item from MMatters.

Fox News host Bill O'Reilly renewed his false attacks on Media Matters, claiming that we, along with the Democracy Alliance, an organization of donors formed to support progressive groups, and other recipients of funding from Alliance donors, represent a "left-wing Mafia" dedicated to "nefarious purposes." O'Reilly leveled specific attacks at Media Matters -- making the blatantly false suggestion that we "give directions to" the homes of O'Reilly and others in order to "intimidate[] good people who may want to come into the public arena as politicians or commentators" and calling us "character assassins" and a "smear website" that "lie[s]."

Even the most disengaged person should realize that is a total fucking lie - and that the people giving out people's home addresses are on the radical right. Those are the tactics used by organizations such as "STOP THE ACLU", who have used them to terrorize a Jewish Family who had protested extremely aggressive Christian prostelyzation on public school grounds. These are the methods of Randall Terry and his neo-terrorist organization Operation Rescue or for that matter - Michelle Malkin These are not the tactics of Media Matters.

But the point is - the facts don't matter. What matters is what people believe, and in this case those on the Right are desperate to believe that they are in the right. Like many people with abusive personalities, they have to find a justification and rationalization for their actions. They have to have a rationale, even if it isn't completely rational. Denial rarely is.

If you do manage to tell these 80% of Republicans what the facts are about the Bush Administration, the State of the Country, about Iraq and the Middle east or about our rapidly deteriorating Voting Rights - they will choose not to believe you.

23% of them will flat out never come around. But the remaining group won't be easy to convince. These people are married to the Republican Party. If the August 6th PDB, Bush's lack of response to Katrina and the continuingly dreadful state of our Militaries armor and mental state weren't enough - pratically nothing will be.

No matter how loud we scream, they aren't listening.

They. Need. An. Intervention.

Someone they trust, a friend, close worker or family member needs to take them by the shoulders -- and give them a hard high Truth Injection. The same way you deal with an addict or the spouse in an abusive relationship who simply refuses to realize - that the political party they married themselves to is just no damn good. Time has come for America to stop being battered.

"Oh, George isn't all that bad, you just have to get to know him..."

But that's a crock. We do know him, and it's all "Cut and Run" and "Party of Death" from here on out. Bushco isn't going to play nice, ever. And it's well past time we reached that moment of clarity, that moment where we finally realize that Daddy is an Asshole. He's a Hater. A Racist. A Homophobe. A Xenophobe. Big Daddy Bush doesn't give a shit about you, he just wants you to roll-over so he can ass-fuck some more tax-cuts for himself and his cronies out of you.

And all his friends are Dickheads too.

It's time to leave, pack your bags, take the kids, grab the car and get the fuck out.

This won't be easy. It will be painful. Wrenching. But it has to be done, person by person, one by one.

For the sake of the sake of the Nation, the World - all of us. And the time to start is now -- before the November elections are upon us and it's far too late to finally hold this Administration accountable for all the shit they've pulled.

If we don't cut this Unitary Executive crap off at the knees right now - there's no telling what future Presidents who aren't as "restrained" as George might do with the ability to spy on anyone without a warrant, arrest kidnap anyone anywhere in the world without an indictment, hold them indefinately without a trial and subject them to torture, regardless of what U.S. Law and the Geneva Conventions say.

Just imagine how much worse it could get - if you can.

Vyan

Wednesday, July 19

RS Supernova - Week 3 Elimination

Finally, an elimination show that made sense.

Before I get seriously into the shit, let me first talk about Josh's little reaction shot when Toby said "yesterday's" comments were very helpful. If you've got TiVo or DVR - just go back and watch Josh eyes go up and to the left as Toby's speaking, then he blinks, smirks, squints and turns toward Toby with "What the fuck?!" look on his face.

Funny, funny shit - that was.

Second funniest moment, Zayra bitching as she got once again tossed into the Bottom 3 pool. "How many times am I going to this?"

Until you're gone baby - until you're gone.

Some cool stuff, Dilana showing that you don't have to be petulant bitch (like um, J.D.) to be a Rock Star. True confidence in yourself means being above being threatened and pulling petty tricks (like J.D. trying to snake his way out singing "We Are the Champions" after he snaked his way into it in the first place), even if Dilana doesn't win this - she should have just won a mountain of fans.

Magni's encore performance of Plush was awesome, very polished without being overdone. He's a natural Rock Star, like Storm, without needed to crutch on affectations -- like, uh -- Lukas.

I had no problem with those that we're ultimately picked for the bottom 3. Josh is a hell of a R&B singer, but he has not brought the ROCK, period. Neither has Jenny or Dana.

Jenny's performance of Vaseline was her best yet, but it seems that when you have to beat someone with a cattle-prod to get them to really ROCK, is it truly worth the effort? And even though it really was her best, her vocals had no grit. Weiland can be a very pretty singer, but there's an underlying angst that she just doesn't have and isn't going to get in the next ten weeks. (Maybe Weiland's grit had something to do with his heroin habit - I don't know - but he's definately got it)

Josh's performance was better, but still problematic. He's vocally great but unfocused with his stage presence, plus he still didn't really Bring the Rock, damnit. He sang "Heart Shaped Box" and about 70% of that song is mellow. I felt there was no way he was going bring the power and passion to that song that Jordis brought last year - and he didn't.

Dana our little Country Flower finally blossomed, with Sass Jordan's "High Road Easy". I practically jumped out of my seat when she said she was doing song because I've been a Sass Jordan fan for loooong time. (Ok, it wasn't practically - it was literally) She absolutely nailed that vocal - note for note, scream for scream with Sass's original. She didn't just pick that song out of left field, she has been singing that song for a good long while. She even had Sass's timing on that last long note. It was absolutely perfect, the only difference is that Sass's voice is smokier and more gritty. Dana's voice is tougher and not as pretty as Jenny's, but she's no Sass Jordan! Also I got to give props to the House Band guitarist Rafeal for nailing Stevie Salas' (Nickelbag, Colorcode, Mick Jagger Band) entry solo.

In the end someone had to go, and I was not surprised- though greatly relieved considering how things have gone in previous weeks - that Jenny was the one to hit the bricks. I also have to say that she gave one of the coolest, classiest exit speeches anyone has done on this show in it's first two years so far. Kudos.

Vyan

RS: Supernova: - Performances Week 3

Well, it's almost at the point where how "good" you are doesn't matter, because everyone is so good. And it's only Week 3.

First Impressions: Storm was great as usual. So Solid, so confident. A consumate pro. She's doing what she does so easily - I have no doubts that she could crank it to Eleven if and when she needs too. My biggest worry for Storm is that the fact the she doesn't create any drama during the Reality portions of the show causes her to get a lot less screen time. She was only on screen for about two seconds during the Record Studio Segment (Week 1/Reality). This weeks vocal clinic spent no time on her, I guess because she has no vocal problems. Magni got time because the instructor didn't expect him to sing as beautifully as he did, Lukas got time because he was terrified to go to the vocal coach after Jason told him he was hurting his voice (which he is, as I discussed last week),. But Storm? Nothing. Probably after one or two more eliminations, talent simply isn't going to matter - it's all going to be about relative popularity and whether the SN guys can envision that person fronting their band. Storm could probably afford to do some more modern songs in that area.

Oh, and the "Google" line was priceless. In case you don't know Storm's been extremely well, exposed, on the net for years.

Besides the vocal clinic, the big issue in the reality show this week was the battle over the songs. First was Josh, who actually discovered the new songs first and took some time to look them over before alerting everyone else. His first impules had been to just take the song he wanted - but he held off and let everyone else have a look. Then he just took the song he wanted while they were standing there trying to figure out what they all were. The odd part is that he got tons of praise for that move from Supernova. Yeah, ok - I didn't know being a Rock Star meant being a no good underhanded snake. I now stand educated.

The really weird thing about Josh's choice of "Come as you Are" is that he claimed he chose it so he could really ROCK, and then he goes and does an acoustic ("Unplugged") version of the song? What the fuck is up with that? Don't get me wrong, he did it great -- and managed to keep his tendency to oversing undercontrol. It was a fine performance, but not really the performance he needed to give right now.

While I'm on Josh let me just say a thing about Soul Singers and "Melisma" - the tendency to add extra notes to a melody. First of all, I hate the word. It sounds like a freaking disease. I've always called it filegre. People who can't do it, call it "melisma" - because it's make them feel less inferior or intimidated by someone who has that talent. Problem is, there are also a lot of people who think they have a talent for it - and they don't. The point isn't to just sing a bunch of extra notes and make the melody unneccesarily complicated - this tradition comes out of blues and jazz where improvisation is highly valued. This style of singing is really the same thing as what an instrumentalist with a trumpet, sax or guitar might improvise onto the melody. It's a mini solo. For any soloist you have to have a good understanding of a songs key and mode or else you'll wind up hitting notes that just Don't. FIT. into the song. To avoid falling out of the key some singers who like to do this tend to use the exact same set of vocal runs over and over again (Christina Aguilera) really, really fast - so people don't notice that it's just a quick trill being repeated. It's like watching a trumpet playing shake one valve, or a guitarist do a solo with one finger. B. O. R. I. N. G. What people like Stevie Wonder or Marvin Gaye used to do was to enhance the core melody with improvised harmonic lines, not obliterate it in a note storm.

Last week Josh was lost in such a storm, this time he found his way home.

The other song fight was between Patricia and Jill over "Helter Skelter". They didn't show it during the performance section of the show, but Jill got in a parting shot at Patrice claiming that her desperation to fight for this one song, was really because her voice and performances had been so weak so far.

Sure, that might have been Jill's ego talking, since she had several songs that were within her vocal range and talent - and Patrice didn't. Storm - in a rare reality segment appearance - was actually the peacemaker, telling Jill that "Patrice really isn't like that". Well, maybe in actual reality she isn't - but this is a big fat fucking game show, and that's how the game is played sometimes. There's no need to take shit personally.

Patrice's actually performance of Helter Skelter was fine. She missed a few notes here and there -- and did really seem to get into the darkness of the song, but it was cool.

Jill did what Jill does on "All Right Now", which is Rock Da house. Her version was much closer to Paul Rogers original than Mig had been last year. Gilby claimed she "oversang" - but you can't oversing Paul Rogers. That guy is a melisma/filigre mother fucker. She did it great Gilby, shut your hole.

Last week I talked a mile about vocal break points in Jill's voice, but this song didn't bring them out at all - nor did the vocal clinic. As long as you don't have to hit those certain notes in full voice, it's a non-problem. Next.

Toby was great last week, but this week - feh. He seemed to be have drown out by the band and was listless. I can't even remember what song he did. Not a good sign. Maybe it was song choice, because even Dave Pirner's-ex Winona "Fast Fingers" Rider couldn't save this "Runaway Train".

Dana = Cher. Naw, Dana= Shania Twain minus the hot outfits and superstar producer/husband. Yeah.

Phil did great this week, ole' mush mouth seemed to have finally found his tongue. He actually looked like a rock star for once.

Ryan is running on empty. He did good, but he's just not the personality type for this gig. They SN boys gave him a ration of shit for "not enjoying" himself on stage. Well, maybe he's not - but I do find that comment a bit ironic, particularly considering the fact that he was singing a protest song- Creedance Clearwater Rivals "Favorite Son", which talks about the fate of middle class kids getting sucked into the Vietnam War, while the sons and daughters of millionaires - like our current President - get away with murder. Literally. This is not a happy song, and last year when Ty would smile through his performance - because he was so happy being on stage and performing - people said he was "disconnected" from the song. The fact is, there are no rules for how this is done - this is singing and performing, connecting with the audience. You do it any way that works for you, if that means acting (as in the Theater!) as if it where happening to you in real-time - then you do it. If it means making sure the audience is rocking out - then you do that instead.

Anyway, the problem with Ryan is that he has no stage presence - that's why he looks uncomfortable, he is uncomfortable. He doesn't know how to make the stage his home, and take command of it. He's doomed.

Just an aside - In the theater singers "emote" because the songs are really just telling a larger story, but Ty - who many claimed last year was Mr. Theater - never did that. I bring this up because how people are perceived, regardless of "reality" is going to become crucial soon. Robert F. Kennedy Jr. was just today quoted as stating the 80% of Republicans would be Democrats if they actually knew the facts, rather than the bullshit they get fed by Talk Radio and Faux News. I would argue that they probably wouldn't change parties, but they might agree a lot more about critical issues that face us all -- and people allowing perception and agendas to distort fact and reality is not only a problem in politics, it's a problem I soon expect to see on this show, just as we saw last year when Ty was raked over the coals for missing one word in a song, while Jordis was ignored for blowing an entire verse. By some accounts, Jordis was trying to throw the show by completely screwing up "Dream On" on purpose - yet ultimatley she stayed (a little longer) and Ty left. We saw similar favoritism when J.D.'s horrible performances of "We are the Champions" and "Crazy" were swept under the carpet and he went on to win the entire contest. I fully expect to see the same thing this year eventually.

And the people I expect to see the Cult of Personality arise around are Dilana, Lukas and quite surprisingly - Zayra.

 Dilana - ©© Danny Moloshok / Blue Pixel for MBP 2006Dilana has definately got the "It" factor. She managed to take Deloris O'Riordian haunting celtic melody on the Cranberry's "Zombie" and make it her own. This is a song about surviving the urban warfare of Northern Ireland during the battles between the occupying British Army and "terrorist" members of the IRA. (Kinda like y'know - how we're currently occupying Iraq and quite possibly how the Israelis are about to send ground troops in to take on Hezbullah in Lebanon in a few days) And probably without realizing it, she brought the chaos, terror and fear of that experience home. The dreaded monkey dance is gone - and Dilana has shown that she's truly a gifted and surprising performer. So far she has BROUGHT IT every freaking time, she definately the primary contender at this point in time.

The last big drama from the reality show was Lukas reworking of the Stones "Let's Spend the Night Together" into a stomping industrial Manson-esque Metal track. The House Band leader Paul Merkovitz had predicted that Gilby, being a huge Stones fan, would hate it. After that build up, I half expected that Gilby would be the one to jump onstage to join in on the performance as we were warned during the reality portion would happen. Iinstead Jason got up and played with Phil, and Gilby loved Lukas' version. "That's the way to cover the Stones".

Yeah, I agree - it was a really cool version.

And then you had, Zayra. Oh my lord - I can not even begin to describe how much I F.u.C.k.i.N.g. HATE that God damn sappy maudlin stomach turning "Everybody Hurts" song by the R.E.E.M!

Wretch!

But, Zayra managed to make the song tolerable. Even enjoyable. She'd had some E.M.S.L. (English and Music as a Second Language) trouble conveying what she wanted to do to the House Band. "You sound like you want an orchestra -- and we're not an orchestra!" Again it was Paul - Mr. Doom-n-Gloom - who was predicting a disaster. But the HB does not crash and burn, Ever. I have to say that those guys have got it ten times worse that the singers in this contest - and they too - BRING IT - every time. They're awesome, and this time was no exception. Zayra finally has shown how and why she's on this show - the girl can actually sing. I was about to figure she must have a tongue like a garter snake or something, but she really does have talent. It's probably not enough for her to end up fronting Supernova, but it is enough for me to glad she's still around for a few more weeks just so we can see what rabbit she pulls out of her catsuit next.

Lastly, Tommy's comments about "We want Ozzfest" sound like what they want is a singer capable of doing Metal, but not limited by it. It seems to me they want either Dilana or Lukas with Storm having an outside chance - other darkhorse candidates for the final prize may arise, but right now that's how I see it.

Vyan

(P.S. Both Zombie and Favorite Son have been included on the Radio Station attached to his blog for weeks)

Tuesday, July 18

RFK Jr. Blowing the Whistle on Diebold

From In These Times.

On July 13, the Pensacola, Fla.-based law firm of Robert F. Kennedy Jr. filed a "qui tam" lawsuit in U.S. District Court, alleging that Diebold and other electronic voting machine (EVM) companies fraudulently represented to state election boards and the federal government that their products were "unhackable."

Kennedy claims to have witnesses "centrally located, deep within the corporations," who will confirm that company officials withheld their knowledge of problems with accuracy, reliability and security of EVMs in order to procure government contracts. Since going into service, many of these machines have been linked to allegations of election fraud.

This suit follows the actions of several others, as well as Kennedy's own research into Voter Fraud -- but will it make a significant difference in this Novembers Elections?

In the past few years Diebold has been kicked out of Maryland.

Voter Action.org has filed suit against Diebold in which the organization claimed (as reported by Bradblog):

"Diebold's TSx touch screen voting system is a severe security risk, and does not accommodate all disabled voters as required by law."
They also add that that "The Diebold system is difficult if not impossible to audit or recount, and has been proven vulnerable to malicious tampering in tests and studies. Diebold technology contains 'interpreted' code, which is easily hacked, and illegal for voting systems in the State of California."

The same group recently carried out a similar action in the state of New Mexico, in regard to the use of Sequoia Touch-Screen voting machines there. That suit ultimately led to the ban of use of such machines, and a bill which was recently signed by Gov. Bill Richardson requiring a paper ballot with every vote cast in the state.

Diebold and other EVM's security problems have been well documented.

In 2004 Diebold was de-certified in California by then Secretary of State Kevin Shelley (D) after revelations found in documents provided by Stephen Heller that Diebold was in violation of California State election law and that they fully intended to remain so. That conditionally re-certification was subsequently reversed by Shelley's Republican replacement, a move which has led to the Bilbray/Busby election controversy and recount efforts.

The breaches in security for the exceedingly hackable Diebold voting machines and the subsequent decertified use of such systems in the important "bellwether" election have prompted a number of Election Integrity organizations to declare "No Confidence" in the results of the election as reported by Registrar Haas. Haas himself has even admitted that storage of such machines in poll workers' cars cannot be considered secure as required by state and federal law.

Last December Diebold admitted that they were still had the interpreted code problem discovered by Ion Sancho in Leon Country Florida.

Meanwhile, another Whistle-blower, William Singer, came forward in March alleging that EVMs company Hart Intervic had witnessed "fraudulent activities, buggy software and hardware, dysfunctional testing and development procedures, unsecured working environments and possible criminal behavior" in relation to the Texas and Ohio elections in 2004.

Kennedy's own case alleges widespread fraud in the 2004 election:

According to the Election Assistance Commission, more than 61 percent of votes in the 2004 presidential election were cast and/or tallied by EVMs. Election Data Services, a Washington, D.C.-based consulting firm, estimates that the figure will jump to 80 percent by November, which will see elections for all 435 seats in the House of Representatives.

Matt Schultz, an attorney with Kennedy's law firm, Levin Papantonio, describes the process of competition for HAVA's $300 million of contractor funds as "a race to the bottom." "There is no question in my mind that these companies sacrificed security and accuracy, mass-producing a cheap product to cash in on tons of federal money," Schultz says. "It's an industry-wide problem."

However, the likely hood that this suit will significantly affect the elections this November are slim as it's quite likely that a 60-day delay may make this suit a moot point until September.

The contents of the suit could be under judicial seal for at least 60 days while the U.S. Department of Justice considers whether or not to join the suit. If U.S. Attorney General Alberto Gonzales decides not to join the suit, Levin Papantonio may approach individual state attorneys general. If no one joins, the firm is free to, as Papantonio puts it, "stand in the shoes of the Attorney General and fight on behalf of the taxpayers and the nation."

Vyan

Sunday, July 16

Israel, Lebanon and Proof of Insanity

Is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results. This weeks Prime Example: The Israel/Lebanon Conflict.

From former CIA Analyst Ray Close.

One of the definitions of madness is the repetition countless times of the same action, always expecting a different result. For more than half a century, the Israelis have been applying the tactic of massively disproportionate retaliation to every provocative act of resistance attempted by the Palestinians, expecting every time that this would bring peace and security to all the people of the Holy Land. Every single time they have done this this, it has backfired. Every single time.

Crossposted on Dailykos and Democratic Underground.

Close Contiued:

The national philosophy (it is really deeper and more significant that just a military tactic) that underlies this devotion to massive over-reaction, and particularly its corollary, collective punishment, is obviously and demonstrably foolish and futile. It does not intimidate or deter the Palestinians, and it never will. It hardens their determination to resist and to defy. I don't care whether you consider the Palestinians to be terrorists or common criminals or freedom fighters or national resistance heroes. If you are an intelligent and sensitive human being, you learn from your past mistakes and you make a rational decision to try something different. The Israeli leadership for all these many generations has been incapable of performing that really rather simple mental and moral exercise.

This morning Condoleeza Rice stated that the thought that our efforts in Iraq have destabalized the region is "Grotesque". From Thinkprogress:

Today on ABC's This Week, George Stephanopoulos pointed out that the Bush administration repeatedly promised that war in Iraq would bring peace and stability to the Middle East. But as the recent violence in the Middle East has shown, the region has actually fallen deeper into instability and unrest since the war began. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice told Stephanopoulos it was "grotesque" to suggest that the Iraq war contributed to that instability. Watch it:

Full transcript: expand

But basic common sense tells us that destabalization is exactly what is occuring. As America's reputation for the potential to project overwhelming military superiority has begun to fade in the wake of Iraq, so has the similar reputation of our putative ally Israel. The fear of retribution for striking out and kidnapping not just civilians, but American and Israeli Soldiers has been dulled, meanwhile the anger at our ongoing occupation of what was a formerly soveriegn country has begun to increase. Cynicism has begun to creep in as was recently shown by an exchange between President Bush and Russian President Putin this week. (Thinkprogress again)

During a press conference today at the G8 summit in Russia, President Bush told President Vladimir Putin that Americans want Russia to develop a free press and free religion "like Iraq." To laughter and applause, Putin responded: "We certainly would not want to have same kind of democracy as they have in Iraq, quite honestly." CNN's Ed Henry called it a "tough jab." Watch it:

The exchange underscores how the war in Iraq has damaged the standing of the United States, to the point where even modest encouragement for democratic reform is met with ridicule.

Outside the protective bubble of his handlers and neo-con syncophants, Bush's Imperialistic Bullshit gets the response it deserves. Laughter.

While we continue to flounder about in Iraq - maybe we're staying, maybe we're not - Baghdad teeters on the brink of collapse.

In just 24 hours before noon yesterday, as parliament convened for another emergency session, 87 bodies were brought to Baghdad city morgue, 63 of them unidentified. Since Sunday's massacre in Jihad, more than 160 people have been killed, making a total of at least 1,600 since Iraq's Government of national unity came to power six weeks ago. Another 2,500 have been wounded.

In early June, Nouri al-Maliki, the new Prime Minister, flooded Baghdad's streets with tens of thousands of soldiers and police in an effort to restore order to the capital.

More recently, he announced a national reconciliation plan, which promised an amnesty to Sunni insurgents and the disbandment of Shia militias. Both initiatives are now in tatters.

"The country is sliding fast towards civil war," Ali Adib, a Shia MP, told the Iraqi parliament this week. "Security has deteriorated in a serious and unprecedented way," said Saadi Barzanji, a Kurdish MP.

Mr al-Maliki told parliament: "We all have a last chance to reconcile and agree among each other on avoiding conflict and blood. If we fail, God knows what the fate of Iraq will be."


Israel's efforts to break the back of the Hezbollah Militia in southern Lebanon may be very likely to suffer a fate similar to our own in Iraq. As was noted Friday on Keith Olbermann as he spoke with Newsweeks chief Whitehouse correspondant, very often the way that tyranical regimes are brought down are internally. Caesar was taken down by the Roman Senate. Nixon was taken out by his own White House Council John Dean - who remains to this day a "Goldwater Conservative" - and eventually by then RNC Chairman George H.W. Bush - who finally told Nixon "it's time to go".

Hezbollah in Lebanon has to be taken out by the Lebonese government itself. Israel can and should aid in this transition, but to take the lead role in reorganizing someone elses country is to take responsibility for it in total. As Colin Powell once said - "You break it - you own it". Is Isreal ready to own Lebanon, as we now own Iraq? Have they even bothered to plan that far?

Today former CIA Agent Larry Johnson writes;

Israel Takes A Stupid Pill

Apparently not content to let the U.S. do a self-immolation act in the Middle East by itself, Israel decided to set itself on fire by invading Lebanon. Burn baby burn? Like George Bush, Israel's Prime Minister, Ehud Olmert, never served in a combat unit and launched military operations without thinking the matter through. In fact, Olmert reportedly never even served in the military. I raise this because there is one simple question Israel cannot answer about the current operations--what is their strategic military objective. Olmert has somehow persuaded the Israeli military to ignore strategy, think tactically, and in the process become really stupid. The events in the next several weeks will expose as myth the canard that you can secure a nation by killing terrorists. No you can't.

What about Hamas and Hezbollah?

Yes, what indeed. In Palestine Hamas is now leading their Democratically Elected Government - but with the Bush Doctrine to spread Democracy through pre-emption, shouldn't the U.S. have respect for the tenents of Democracy, respect the will of the Palastinian people and at least try to work with Hamas -- or does that rule only apply when you happen to agree with the party currently in power?

If the definition of a "terrorist" is one that stages unwarranted attacks on innocents - how does George Bush escape the charge? Or better yet, how does the Republican Party? Many who like to state the George Bush is a Terrorist are missing the big picture, Bush is merely a figurehead - an enabler - for a policy that has been in the formative stages for nearly 30 years. The truth isn't the Bush is a terrorist, that being far too narrow a view, the neo-con wing of the Republican Party is a terrorist organization.

Palestine elected terrorist into their governent, and so did we.

And in some ways, so is the Government of Israel as well as the Hezbollah militia's they are currently battling in southern Lebanon. The methods employed by Bush and the current Israeli government are reckless and irresponsible. They might consider it "leaning forward" -- others, fucking insanity. They aren't winning the ideological battle, simple creating more hardened enemies.

The sillyness has even begun to find it's way onto the screens of Faux News:

This morning on Fox News Sunday, [PNAC Signatory] William Kristol argued that the Bush administration's "coddling" of Iran had "invited" the latest aggression, and that the United States should join in the current fighting. Juan Williams pushed back:

You just want war, war, war, and you want us in more war. You wanted us in Iraq. Now you want us in Iran. Now you want us to get into the Middle East. ... You're saying, why doesn't the United States take this hard, unforgiving line? Well, the hard and unforgiving line has been, we don't talk to anybody. We don't talk to Hamas. We don't talk to Hezbollah. We're not going to talk to Iran. Where has it gotten us, Bill?

Kristol threw up his hands and didn't answer. Watch it:

Well, War is good for business after all. Got to keep those military contractors profits up.

I really don't know where all this is leading us, particularly since these events in Lebanon seem to getting the Rapture Right ready for their Beginning of the Armageddon Party.

Via The Talent Show--I too am soooo excited!! I get goose bumps, literally, when I watch what's going on in the M.E.!! But, yes, it is most indeed a time to be happy and excited
And look, the new Left Behind Video Game where kids learn the tactics they'll need as Holy Christian soldiers to sweep all unbelievers from the streets of New York should be ready just in time for the increasing violence in Lebanon to finally reach our own shores.
Chip Berlet has reported on how the game fronts for, and helps to market Tim LaHaye' brand of hateful hateful ideology. In Berlet's view:
So the outcome of Tim LaHaye's "non-fiction" writing, the Left Behind series of novels, and the video game, is the training of young Christian evangelicals to rebel against the elected government of the United States when they decide government leaders are in service to the antichrist. And the task for these young Crusaders is to gun down the agents of Satan and their witting and unwitting allies among the ranks of the non-believers.

And from the Left Behind novels, we know this list is likely to include not just secularists, but also homosexuals, feminists, abortion providers, as well as Jews, Catholics, Hindus, and Muslims...especially Muslims.

Well, isn't that just Special?

Of course, we back in America need not worry right now - not with the right honorable George W. Bush in charge. No, George is just going to completely bungle and fuck-up the Middle-east and the Christian (wing-nut) Army is certain to keep thier weapons holstered until the time is right.

Sure things are pretty bad right now, the fucking nutballs are running the asylum, but just don't let a Democrat (who might actually have some solutions to the middle east issues and stuff) come into office -- that'll fuck up the wingbat's master plan and the shit will be on. Seriously.

Vyan