Saturday, September 9

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Kerry tears GOP-TV and BushGov a New One

Last night on Firedoglake I caught a unique post, following Bill Clinton's slicing ABC open like a flailing trout Taylor Marsh put a call in to John Kerry's office to get his reaction.

The Senator called Taylor back on her cellphone and apparently turned the air bright blue with his response on the issue not only of "Path to 9/11", but also the sad and dangerous incompetence of of BushGov as they failed to contain al-Qaeda, failed to capture of kill Osama Bin Laden and turned Iraq and our foreign policy into a world-wide disaster.

What I find most stunning in all of this is that now five years after the real 9/11 - as if any fiction could somehow make more searing what each and every one of us lived with our own eyes and ears - is that we need less revisionism about the past and a hell of a lot more reality about what's going on now. Right now.

Instead of the fiction written to excuse the invasion of Iraq by exploiting the 3,000 mothers and fathers, sons and daughters who were lost that day -- they were attacked and killed not by Saddam Hussein but by Osama bin Laden - we need the truth.

Here's a little truth: The President pretends Iraq is the central front on the war on terror. It is not now, and never has been. His disastrous decisions have made Iraq a fuel depot for terror - fanning the flames of conflict around the world.

The terrorists are not on the run. Worldwide, terrorist acts are at an all-time high, more than tripling between 2004 and 2005. Al Qaeda has spawned a vast and decentralized network operating in 65 countries, most of them joining since 9/11. The Taliban now controls entire portions of southern Afghanistan, and just across the border Pakistan is just one coup away from becoming a radical jihadist state with nuclear weapons. The Middle East is more unstable than it has been in decades. Hezbollah flags fly from rooftops in Shiia slums of Sadr City and Iran is rebuilding Southern Lebanon. We have an Iraqi Prime Minister sustained in power by our forces, who will not speak against the Hezbollah terrorists, who will not say that Israel has a right to exist, and who will not condemn the Iranian nuclear program, who will not even as a national leader support the national army over the Shiite militia. In other words, the Iraq government that the administration cites as the front-line force in the fight against terrorism won't even take our side when we are fighting terrorists. No American soldier should be asked to stand up for an Iraqi government that won't stand up for the values and interests that draw them into battle every day. Oh, and the 9/11 commission recently gave our government a failing grade on implementing intelligence reforms.

I love watching movies, but with the world looking the way it is right now I think this is a good time to stick with just the facts. After Iraq, we've all had enough fiction to last a lifetime.

Senator John Kerry

Me thinks the attempts to silence Bush critics by Rumsfeld and the President himself have failed - like so many of his policies - miserably.

If BushGov thought that calling their critics "appeasers" would get real traction with the public, they thought wrong. If anything, with the pending debut of this five hour smear against the Clinton administration - their efforts are about to backire in a big way.

Starting initially with thinkprogress.org's comments from Richard Clarke on the films inaccuracies - this situation has metastisized into a full blown cancer on the Bush Administration and their enablers in Congress.

Madaline Albright, Sandy Berger and even several 9-11 Commissioners have all spoken out about about this project. Former Vice-President Al Gore has spoken up.

By all accounts, "The Path to 9/11″ is riddled with inaccuracies and contains material that directly contradicts the factual findings of the 9/11 Commission. I am deeply concerned that ABC is considering going forward with their plans to broadcast this so-called docudrama. The lessons from the events leading up to that tragedy are too important to trivialize, and it would be fundamentally irresponsible to air such distortions.

Two FBI Consultants hired to work on the project quit because of it's inaccuracies.

Even Conservatives who are openly critical of the Clinton administration such as Charles Mintner and Bill Bennet have pointed out that the truth is Clinton's failed attempts to capture and kill Bin Laden damning enough - you don't have to stoop to making shit up.

But - as I diaried on thursday - most of the right-wing still doesn't get it. They think this is a Free Speach issue - or somehow equivelent to the release of Micheal Moore's Fahrenheit 9-11. Although Moore did take some editorial liberties with his award winning documentary - he didn't have actors walk around and dramatize a bunch of crap that didn't happen. The Bush family really did have financial ties to the Bin Laden family. George really did spend seven minutes reading "My Pet Goat" as the World Trade Center Burned. Moore may have speculated in his commentary that these two issues were related, but he didn't make that up.

However the writer and director of "Path to 9/11" have been shown to be Conservatives with a specific agendy to transform Hollywood.

Cunningham Linked To YWAM. David Cunningham was contracted by ABC to direct Path to 9/11. Cunningham is the son of Loren and Darlene Cunningham, the founders of Youth With a Mission (YWAM), a Christian evangelical group that actively tries to get "youth into short-term mission work and to give them opportunities to reach out in Jesus' name."

YWAM Sponsored the Film Institute To Change Hollywood. YWAM created an "auxillary" group called the Film Institute, which was explicitly aimed at achieving a "Godly transformation and revolution TO and THROUGH the Film and Television industry."

Film Institute Began the "Untitled History Project." The Film Institute's first project was simply referred to as the "Untitled History Project" (UHP). In July 2005, Fox News reported that filming had begun on an ABC miniseries about 9/11 that ABC officials and producers were referring to it as the "Untitled History Project." A production company entitled "UHP Productions," which was co-founded with Disney began filming Path to 9/11 in late 2005.

UHP Became Path to 9/11. UHP Productions has only produced one movie. Harvey Keitel, who stars as FBI special agent John O'Neill in the movie, said that when he received the original script, "it said ABC History Project."

The words "Defamation" and "Slander" have been tossed around. Those are legal/fighting words. But on her show yesterday Air America host Randy Rhodes argued that ABC/Disney may be more than willing to take the Defamation hit - even if the suit costs them millions - if the result of airing "Path to 9-11" helps preserve the Republican Majority in Congress. The potential windfall in terms of tax breaks, Net Nuetrality and Media deregulation could mean $Billions for the company.

Being sued is just the cost of doing business.

So it looks like, even despite the backlash, ABC is going to air their little propaganda peice without any significant changes. But looking yet again at the comments by Senator Kerry - it just might produce the opposite result than that which they intend.

Democrats are enraged.

Just like the response to Rumsfeld's jabs, Democrats are punching back - hard. If Republicans want to talk failure - ok, let's talk FAILURE.

Where's Osama Bin Laden?

Why have the Pakistan Government just sign a peace treaty with the Taliban? I thought we were gonna "Smoke 'em out", and that "If you are with us, you're against us?"

Just as Republicans were able to have the mini-series about the Reagan's pushed from Network TV to Cable, the blowback from "Path to 9/11" is likely to embolden Democrats - not silence them. Like Kerry they're going to be taking scalps.

Republicans are running scared. We've already seen the John Bolton nomination process go down in flames - again. While the Congress is still under Republican control Bush is seeking to pull an ex post facto on the War Crimes Act, retroactively making his many violations of this law legal by changing the law itself.

This can not be allowed to succeed.

Both the Supreme Court and Federal Judges have already poined out that Bush has violated this law. Since the current Attorney General has been directly complicit in these actions, only a Special Prosecutor could possibly bring charges - but this won't happen with a Republican controlled Congress. Only a Democratic Congress with Subpeona Power can possibly examine this issue, as well as the numerous other issues and crimes of the Bush Administration.

Gop-TV's mini-series ploy is about to blow up in their faces. All we need now is the popcorn.

Vyan

Thursday, September 7

The Path to Propaganda and Right Wing-Nuttery

In the midst of the "Path to 9-11" furor, I've noticed one factor that's been missing - what has the right have to say for itself in this debacle? Do they think it's just fine to smear and American President just because he happened to be a Democrat? (Well, sure - that's a no brainer) But have they really no conscience what so ever about flat-out lies being portrayed to the American public and more importantly - to our children - reaching them in a way that the actual 9-11 Commission Report never will?

The Amazing thing is that they're not only fine with it, they think that what this ABC Docudrama is showing - IS THE FAIR AND HONEST TRUTH!


I Shit you not.


A few lines after the money quote from Hugh Hewlett concerning the results of the emergency Disney/ABC confab over changes to "Path to 9-11" which has been propagaged by Thinkprogress among others.


- The message of the Clinton Admin failures remains fully intact.


There's an even more fascinating treasure trove of wing-nuttery.


The story here is the backlash that the Disney/ABC execs experienced was completely unexpected and is what caused them to question themselves and make these changes at all. Had this been the Bush Admin pressuring, they wouldn't have even taken the call. The execs and studio bosses are dyed in the wool liberals and huge supporters of Clinton and the Democratic Party in general.


Ok, let me get this perfectly straight. DISNEY EXECS are now "dyed in the wool liberals"?


Hold the phone, the horses and my lunch. The Disney Corporation is a long way from being friendly with the Democratic Party or Liberals. We all should know well how Disney tried to completely derail the release of Farenheit 9-11 in 2003.


On April 13, 2004, after [Miramax Chief Harvey] Weinstein saw a rough cut, he went back to Eisner and asked him to reconsider his year-old decision not to distribute Fahrenheit 9/11. After getting a report on the content, which included footage from such sources as Al Jazeera and Al-Arabiya television, Eisner saw no reason to change his position. He again declared that Disney wouldn't have anything to do with the movie.


This was after Mel Gibson's Icon Productions had already ducked out of it's contract with Moore. And we all now know that Mel is like real "liberal" and stuff. Yep.


Besides Walmart, Disney remains one of the most Labor and Union hostile companies in the country.


What's Disney paying its workers in Haiti to produce kids' $19.99 garments based on the hit movie 101 Dalmatians?


Answer: Six cents a garment.


(Subtext: Contrast this with the way Disney treated the Dalmatian puppies during the filming of the movie. According to the company, it gave pups round-the-clock care in special dog motels staffed by personal trainers. "Our animals were treated better than most humans," the company glowed in one of its press kits.")


Well, better than the Humans that work for you.


More from Hewitt.


As I understand this, the lawyers and production team spent literally months corroborating every story point down to the sentence. The fact that they were the attacked and vilified by their "own team" took them completely by surprise; this is the first time they've been labeled right-wing, conservative conspiracists.


The first time? As Digby (via Kos) has already pointed out - this far from the first time.


Disney/ABC cancelled the reality show featuring a gay couple, "Welcome To The Neighborhood," ten days before it was to air when James Dobson and the religious right threatened to withdraw their support for the conservative classic "Narnia."


They made a deal with Mel Gibson, beloved on the religious right for his film "The Passion," to produce a film about the Holocaust even though they knew at the time he held extremely controversial views about the Holocaust and Judaism. They only cancelled the project when he was caught by the police drunkenly saying "all the wars in the world are caused by the Jews."


When the James Dobson and the Right-wing calls, Disney jumps! When President Clinton calls - they put him on hold.


According the Hewitt he's already seen "Path to 9-11", but President Clinton, Madaleine Albright and Sandy Berger are still waiting...


Former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright and former National Security Adviser Sandy Berger have also requested copies of the film from ABC, and both have been denied.


That's not exactly how you treat the guys your "own team" is it?


Let re-emphasize one of Hewitt's points for a moment:


the lawyers and production team spent literally months corroborating every story point down to the sentence.


Every Sentence? Really? Then why does Tom Kean Sr. the Former Republican Co-Chair of the 9-11 Commission seem to have been completely unaware of the offending scene where Sandy Berger is shown hanging up on the CIA Operatives who have Bin Ladin "in their sights"?


In a conference call with Reporters...


Kean said, "I don't think the facts are clear" about those events, and that while ABC had "chose to portray it this way," "my memory of it is that it could have happened any number of ways."


But here's the kicker - it's seem that entire scene was ad-libbed according to mini-series author Cyrus Nowrasteh.


Mr. Berger's character is also seen abruptly hanging up during a conversation with a C.I.A. officer at a critical moment of a military operation. In an interview yesterday with KRLA-AM in Los Angeles, Cyrus Nowrasteh, the mini-series' screenwriter and one of its producers, said that moment had been improvised.


"Sandy Berger did not slam down the phone," Mr. Nowrasteh said. "That is not in the report. That was not scripted. But you know when you're making a movie, a lot of things happen on set that are unscripted. Accidents occur, spontaneous reactions of actors performing a role take place. It's the job of the filmmaker to say, `You know, maybe we can use that.' "


Ok, wait a second - the problem isn't that Sandy didn't slam the phone down, the problem is the entire scenario of having Bin Laden "in their sights" of CIA and Special Forces in Afghanistan simply didn't happen.


To be fair, there are points in his book "Against All Enemies" during October-September of 2000 where former NSA Terrorism Head Richard Clarke believes he spotted Bin Laden -- through the Camera of an unarmed Predator Drone -- but American assets were simply not in any position at that time to do anything about it.


AAE Page #221


From the Camera images on three flights, I am convinced that I was looking at Bin Laden [But] there were no submarines off the coast to fire [a cruise missile attack like that which missed Bin Laden in 1998]


It was only after these sets of flight that request was put to the Air Force to arm the Predator's with missiles. Since then the armed Predator has been used frequently, including this part January where an attempt was made to killed Al Qaeda's Number "2" man - Al Zawahiri. These failed to find their target, and have been seem by some in the world as nothing more than an attempt to help protect and bolster the Musharraf regime.


On January 8th and 13th, 2006, the United States bombed its ally Pakistan with the pretext of trying to eliminate "Al Qaeda's Number 2 man", Al Zawahiri. Since then, important demonstrations have taken place in Pakistan against these actions, which are actually part of the ethnic repression unleashed by the United States in that country, in order to help General Musharraf's dictatorship to keep control of the Baluchistan region, rich in natural gas.


A highly cynical view to be sure. But still not nearly as cynical as Hewitt as he reviews the film and it's critics.


In the self-serving complaints about this scene or that take delivered by Richard Ben-Veniste and other proxies are replayed again the deadly narcissisms of the'90s. The program's great faults are --they say-- in the inaccurate portrayal of Bill Clinton and his furrowed brow and continual efforts to track down bin Laden.


It is all about them, you see. Just as it was in the '90s. To hell with O'Neill or the victims of 9/11, and forget about the worldwide menace that continues to nurse its hatred, though now from caves and not compounds.


Not a word from these critics about the program's greatest strength, which is in the accurate rendering of the enemy, and the warning it might give about the need for continual vigilance.


That fact that al Qaeda are dangerous and dedicated killers, does not need to be repeatedly ad nauseum. What's clearly missing from this film is that which the right-wing itself is so often clamoring for.... Balance.


Did Clinton attempt to kill Bin Laden and fail? Yes. Just like Bush attempted to kill al-Zawahiri and failed.


It's unquestionable that Clinton might have been able to do better, if he'd gotten the right lucky break. He didn't.


But Clinton didn't spend the first eight months of 2001 ignoring Al Qaeda and warnings of his own NSA Terrorism Chief about Bin Laden. Clinton didn't ignore the August 8th PDB stating "Bin Laden determined to Attack in the U.S.". Clinton didn't sit there with "My Pet Goat" as the Nation was being attacked.


All of these actions - by President Bush - are glossed over in "Path to 9/11".


Not to mention the fact that after 9/11 Bush diverted forces from Afghanistan into Iraq (prior to Congressional approval) and failed to capture or kill Bin Laden at Tora Bora.


Balance is : Clinton did everything he could do - short of starting a War - to get Bin Laden, and at that point in time he'd already gone through a knock-down-drag-out-fight to get our forces into Bosnia to end the Ethnic Cleansing going on there. There was no way he was going to get a Republican Congress to go along with going to War with Afghanistan to get Bin Laden - because when he'd tried in 1998, they accused him of "Wagging the Dog". Republicans fought his attempts to beef up our anti-terrorism and wiretapping capabilities tooth and nail.


The claim that Clinton was "distracted by Monica" is bogus. in his own book President Clinton talks about how as a child growing up with an alcoholic father he's long ago learned to compartmentalize portions of his life which simply couldn't be dealt with or resolved. During the Lewinsky Scandal he kept focused purely on his job, only diverting from it when he had to meet with his attorneys -- and had any and all news about Monica and the Impeachment trial removed from his Newspapers before he read them, just so he could remain focused on his job without that distraction.


The ones who were distracted from their job by Monica - was Congress.


Now they want to claim - through their syncophant proxies at Disney - that Clinton was "Soft on Terrorism"?


Bullshit.


Clinton had standing orders to have Bin Laden Killed, but the Pentagon Brass simply wouldn't do it. Clinton told Gen Hugh Shelton - Chairman of the Joint Chiefs...

"Hugh, what i think would scare the shit outof these al Qaeda guys more than any cruise missle... would be the sight of U.S. commandos, Ninja guys in black suits, jumping out of helicopters into their camps, spraying machine guns. Even if we don't get the big guys, it will have a good effect." Shelton looked pained. He explained that the camps were a long way away from anywhere we could launch a helicopter raid. Nonetheless, America's top military oficer agreed to "look into it".


But the Pentagon wasn't having any more of Clinton's "wild adventures" in Africa and the Middle-east - not after Somalia.

In October of 2000, Richard Clarke discussed the problem following the bombing of the Cole with Mike Sheehan, then the State Depts top Counter-terrorism official.


"What's it gonna take, Dick?" Sheehan demanded, "Who the shit do they think attacked the Cole, fuckin' Martians? The Pentagon brass won't let Delta go get bin Laden. Hell, they won't even let the Air Force carpet bomb the place. Does al Qeada have to attack the Pentagon to get their attention?"


Yes, they did.


Meanwhile George Bush's steadfast and brainlessly resolute March to Freedom has just brought us a spanking brand-new Treaty Between Pakistan and the Taliban - which establishes a Safe Haven for Al Qaeda and Bin Ladin.


Heckuvajob - Bushie.


But then again, I'm sure none of this would impress Hewitt.


There is, by the way, zero mention in the fve hours of the allegations that Clinton let bin Laden slip through his fingers when the terror chief was offered up by Sudan.


Well, that's probably because that shit didn't happen!


There is no Atta meeting in Prague, no suggestion of a Saddam history of terror ties unrelated to 9/11


That would be because Saddam had no ties to 9-11.


--in short, there is no reaching by the writer/producers/director.


No reaching? Of course not, but there's more than a little reacing and bullshitting by the actors -- and the director just went "maybe we can use that." Yeah, that's the ticket.


It is an objective show, and not one that will cheer the right. But any show that does not praise Clinton or hopelessly conflate the eight years of the Clinton tenure with the eight months of the pre-9/11 Bush Administration is to be condemned.


No, any show that completely distorts the facts in order to promulgate a frothing partisan fantasy is to be condemned, and is being condemned.


Support the DNC's Call to Take This Piece of Propaganda Off the Air.


Vyan

Rock Star: Week 10 Elimination

This isn't easy to write - sigh - but here goes.

Last nights elimination show was something special. It saw the departure of an artist who I've found very inspirational for not only their performance ability, but their grace and class under incredible pressure.

The show began with the Rockers showing off a new set of Honda Element SC's which they drove to the studio and rocked on the red carpet. (a) I didn't know they had a red carpet for this show and b) isn't that something you do at a movie premiere not a Rock Show?) Bwak-Bwak then announced that the winner of the encore would be keeping their Honda Element as a prize.

Ok, as if this wasn't already enough of a game show.

Tell 'em what they've WON Johnny....

Come on down -- IT'S A NEW CAR!!!
Feh.

Oh well, I shouldn't be surprised -they did the same thing last year and J.D. got a new place to live our of it (besides Hotel rooms).

Anyway, this time out the encore went to -- as Tommy drummed rolled on the glass desk --- Toby! Making this his third encore I do believe, and a strong sign that the Suave Porn guys truly dig his stuff. He went back out and performed his original song again, which frankly didn't grab me. It sounded like one of those three-name emo punk bands that seem to litter the airways -- y'know -- like Taking Back Sunday, and that's definately not my cuppa. Not that it was bad, his song "Take it Away" hass got that cute little sing-along "Hey hey" chorus and stuff. Evs.

Then we had the next person to perform a Supernova song -- and I was hoping heavily for Storm since only she and Magni hadn't yet performed one. It went to Magni. The song was probably the most likeable and chart worthy SN track yet. It was also dull like dirty dishwater. It just didn't have a great hook or trancendant spark to it, but the performance was good and of course Magni sang it great. Seeing him front the band is about what I expected, technically excellent but rather cold and distant.

Bottom Three time - and as they named off the list of Rockers who'd spent some time in the B3 - everyone eventually stood. (With only 5 left, it's only natural that this would happen) But the first performer up was Storm, who proceeded to do an awesomely beautiful version of Pink Floyd's "Wish you were here." Subtle, understated, yet elegant and moving. I'm sure I saw Jason wipe away a tear and both Dave and Gilby looked choked up.

Dilana was next, her second time in the B3, and proceded to turn Cheap Tricks "Want you to loev me" into a neo-punk howdown. Giminy Christmas, that was not cool. Serously, there is a very fine line between certain high-speed punk grooves and full on shit-kick. She played hop-scotch with that line - on one foot. It was just totally cringe worthy. The audience seemed to dig doing a one-legged two-step/pogo, and the SN boys seemed to like it -- so maybe I'm just weird that I don't think you should mix punk and Hee Haw. Oh, and let me just point out that the lyric of the song - yet again - was just a little bit too on the nose. Apparrently Dilana got the memo that attacking your fans in your songs isn't a good idea when you happen to be rapidly running out of them, so now she's sucking up? Obvious, much?

Last in line - Surprise surprise - it was LUKAS! Geez, there's been many times that Lukas deserved to be in the B3, but I really don't think last night was the time. Still, that's the way it goes and it was also clear - in classic Lukas fashion - that he really didn't have a B3 song prepared so instead simply re-performed his original "Head spin". It was a typical Lukas drunk-man-walking type of performance. I haven't found his attempts to channel the not-quite-dead-yet Mick Jagger all that impressive. Oh sure, the throws a little Iggy Pop in their just to make it fresh, but frankly Weiland is already all over that shit. I don't know, the shine is off the zercon for me at this point. Lukas doesn't grab me. And if he grabs you - I hope you're wearing a cup, because that boy is a S.P.A.Z.

The moment of truth came, and this time it was so tough Tommy couldn't bring himself to drop the TommyHawk, and instead passed it over to Jason. Lukas --- was told to sit down, leaving just Dilana and Storm behind. The only two people left in the competition who'd been in the bottom 3 more than once each.

The TommyHawk fell, and landed on Storm.

Shit.

I knew this was coming from interviews with Storm she'd gotten the signals from Gilby that she was awesome, but might not "the one" for the band. But Jesus, Dilana is? She's a terminal drama queen who couldn't write her way out of wet tissue paper.

Of those left I suppose the best choice is Toby, even though I really have just about had it with the nasal tone in his voice. That's the other thing about him that reminds me of all those little punk-let bands that are around these days--they're full of grown men who sound like twelve-year-olds when they sing. Blech. Hey man, let your balls drop already will ya?

Fortunately I know that Toby has a deep rich lower register, even if he does get a bit pitchy down there -- but at this point none of the remaining hamsters really excites me. SN with Storm would have been really interesting - powerful, distinctive and unique. They would've rock the balls off the world and still been able to pull of magical moments like she did tonight. At least she got to show what she can do, build her fan base and perform "Ladylike" on national tv (even if it was the PMRC version) Dilana and Lukas are cartoon characters, Magni is great - for a cardboard cutout. That leaves Toby.

Jeez, I need a beer.

Thank God there's only one more week left of this... anymore and I'd need a shot of heroin to dull the pain (Hey relax - I keed, I keed! Don't you dare try that a home kiddies.)

Vyan

Wednesday, September 6

Rock Star: Week 10 Performance

This week the hamster got to run in two habitrails at once - perform a cover song and them follow it up with an original in a "set".

Dilana was up first with the Who's "Behind Blue Eyes" and did a decent job even though she was hampered by a torn calf muscle (something that happened after an ackward jump and landing at rehearsal). I wasn't really impressed, Limp Bizkit did a better job with it. And her choice of the song was just so obvious, she was even whining during her between song banter -- why me? Jesus will you just stop it, ok? Put on your big girl panties and suck it up. You embarrised yourself on national - international television. People will remember it for only another few minutes if you don't keep bringing it up all the time.

Anyway, once the Pity-Party was over - Dilana went to her original and surprisingly it didn't totally suck. It wasn't memorable, and she has to be given some props for trying hard to rock it even while hopping around on one leg. Nice effort, weak song.

Second up was Magni who did a decent job with the Beatles "Back in the U.S.S.R." He's always strong - so professional. This guy is a true talent, and then he broke into his original....WOW that Rocked. Cool riff, nice chorus. Lots of energy. He slammed that one home. But when time came for the review from the Pod-boys, Tommy said that both performances were "the Same. Why is that?" And Magni snapped backed - because "both of the singers were me." Nice come back, but it still displays a basic problem with Magni's performances having a sameness. He really doesn't have a wide repretoir(sp) of stage moves to draw from. He's basically puled from the bottom of the well already, they're aren't really any more depths to pull from. Too bad.

Third was Storm doing "Suffragette City" with guest guitarist Dave Navarro, and she competely rocked it. She has some vocal habits I sometimes don't like on first hearing, but usually on second listen they blend into the overall performance and become irrelevant - and this time she totally rocked it. Then she went to her original and pulled a trick I've often used on stage -- the removing of the jacket or hat to amp up the energy. It's simple, but it works. And man-oh-man her original "Ladylike" was a mother-fucker. It's too bad she had to censor the key lyric "What the Fuck is Ladylike?" - but it worked anyway. The Storm Front has finally arrived and it's coming for your levees.

Bloody shit that was good.

Storm may have gotten signals from Gilby that she won't be the winner, well I just think she sent back a signal of her own - you'll be sorry bitch.

Next was Lukas who emo'd out a whiny version of Bon Jovi's "Living on a Prayer". Yuck. I mean, that song is so many light-years away from his vibe -- and although he did manage to transform it into something modern sounding, it also sounded like feces. I suppose all the little emo-lettes will dig it - I don't. Fuck Emo.

He then went on to do one of his songs from Rise Electric, "Headspin" which I like quite a bit. But this version wasn't as good IMO as what he's recorded with his own band, and his crazy stage antics were just that - crazy. He was like a clown out there - he had the face paint, the Ronald McDonald Shirt - but Homey Don't play Dat.

Meh. Evs.

Toby was up last and I can't remember what his cover was - it'll probably come to me later (The Killers "Mr Brightside" probably blocked it out mentally because I HATE The Killers) - but his original was pretty cool for pop punk. It reminded my wife of Midnight Oil without Peter Garrett. It definately had a hook and he completely brought the crowd into it. As Gilby said "He brought the Fun back to the Rock" and that's been sorely needed for a while. I don't know if it's the direction VelveetaNova wants to go -- but it was cool.

I have no idea who's going tonight, maybe Dilana - maybe Magni - maybe Storm. I doubt it'll be Toby or Lukas.

Vyan

Democrats Stand Tall against BushGov Bashing

Following up on the attack made by Donald Rumsfeld against administration critics as "appeasers" the President himself has ramped up the rhetoric and prompted yet another direct response from Keith Olbermann.
It is to our deep national shame--and ultimately it will be to the President's deep personal regret--that he has followed his Secretary of Defense down the path of trying to tie those loyal Americans who disagree with his policies--or even question their effectiveness or execution--to the Nazis of the past, and the al Qaeda of the present.

Today, in the same subtle terms in which Mr. Bush and his colleagues muddied the clear line separating Iraq and 9/11 -- without ever actually saying so--the President quoted a purported Osama Bin Laden letter that spoke of launching, "a media campaign to create a wedge between the American people and their government."

Make no mistake here--the intent of that is to get us to confuse the psychotic scheming of an international terrorist, with that familiar bogeyman of the right, the "media."

It thus becomes necessary to remind the President that his administration's recent Nazi "kick" is an awful and cynical thing.

And it becomes necessary to reach back into our history, for yet another quote, from yet another time and to ask it of Mr. Bush:

"Have you no sense of decency, sir?"

If the President had hoped to cow administration critics into silence by dropping the N-bomb, that plan - like so many of their others plans - has failed miserably.

Yesterday Senator Harry Reid, along with several other prominent Senators and Gen. Wesley Clark released "The Neo-Con", a report on the state of our War on Terror - and the scorecard for the Bush Administration would be a D- at best. Some of the harsest criticism has come from the Administration and it's supporters:

Regime change in Iraq would bring about a number of benefits to the region.When the gravest of threats are eliminated,the freedom-loving peoples of the region will have a chance to promote the values that can bring lasting peace.As for the reaction of the Arab 'street,'the Middle East expert Professor Fouad Ajami predicts that after liberation,the streets in Basra and Baghdad are 'sure to erupt in joy in the same way the throngs in Kabul greeted the Americans.'Extremists in the region would have to rethink their strategy of Jihad.Moderates throughout the region
would take heart.And our ability to advance the Israeli-Palestinian peace process would be enhanced,just as it was following the liberation of Kuwait in 1991.

Vice President Dick Cheney
(Speech to the VFW in Nashville,
August 26,2002)

North Korea is firing missiles.Iran is going nuclear.Somalia is controlled by radical Islamists.Iraq isn't getting better,and Afghanistan is getting worse … I give the president a lot of credit for hanging tough on Iraq.But I am worried that it has made them too passive in confronting the other threats.

William Kristol,Editor of The Weekly Standard
(The Washington Post ,July 6,2006)

Things aren't getting better;they're getting worse.The White House is completely disconnected from reality … The reality is that we''re losing in Iraq.

Senator Chuck Hagel
(Philadelphia Daily News,September 2,2005)

But even more damning is the text of the report itself.

In this report,Third Way analyzes the Bush Administration record and measures its success or failure.Vice President Dick Cheney and Senior Advisor Karl Rove have repeatedly argued that “everything changed on 9-11 ” and that America must have a “post-9-11 worldview.” We hold the Administration to its own words and measure success or failure in the post-9-11 world across seven key national security indicators: Iraq,terrorism (broadly),Afghanistan,Iran,North Korea,the condition of the American military,and China.

In this report,the evidence leads us to conclude that the Bush Administration has failed.The number of terrorist attacks and recruits are up worldwide;many of our enemies are stronger;their reach is greater;their weapons of mass destruction are more developed,plentiful and available.At the same time,American influence with our allies has weakened:our “friends ” are not with us in Iraq..And a prolonged and troop-intensive war in Iraq has stretched our military and has left America less able to project power in troublesome hot spots than before 9-11.

The data leave little doubt that incompetence on the part of senior members of the Bush Administration has helped lead us to this dangerous situation.The data also suggest that the Bush Administration has failed in a more fundamental strategic sense. This Administration has underestimated our enemies,walked away from the negotiating table with would-be nuclear powers,selectively interpreted intelligence to suit prescribed solutions,fallen deeply in debt with one of our nation ’s toughest competitors,watched helplessly as allies ignored or shunned America ’s leadership, burned out the military,and put the capture and execution of one of the greatest mass murderers in American history on the back-burner.The numbers don ’t lie —the Bush strategy is not working.



It may be true as Neil Cavuto pointed out while debating this subject with General Wesley Clark, that America has not been attacked directly since September 11th 2001. However Spain, England and Russian have all suffered devastating attacks and bombings. We have now lost more soldiers and personnel in persuit of the Iraq war than were killed on 9-11, and that doesn't even begin to cover the civilian deaths including Iraqi citizens and journalists.

If this is indeed a Global War on Terror, then Globally - we are losing. Hamas and Hezbollah have become resurgent. Both Iran and North Korean have gone - or are going Nuclear. Pakistan just signed a treaty with the Taliban, which would allow them - and members of al Qaeda including Osama Bin Laden- sanctuary and safe passage.

That's not progress - that's not Freedom on the March.

It may seem unfair to some to dump all this at the feet of George W. Bush - but as he himself said - He Is the Decider! He's made the choices and made the decisions. Some even Republicans such as New Jersey Senatorial Hopeful Tom Kean Jr, as we approach the mid-term elections have begun to call for the resignation of Donald Rumselds. But the fact is that Donald Rumsfeld has already resigned - twice. He did so following abu Ghraib, but his resignation was rejected by - George W. Bush.

In a CNN interview, Mr Rumsfeld said he was ready to take responsibility for the scandal over pictures showing US troops and staff mistreating prisoners.

But he said each time he offered to go, President Bush asked him to stay on.

This Presidency is on a collision course with Reality and Fact - neither of which are in their favor. Donald Rumsfeld has repeatedly failed our troops and our nation, yet he remains Secretary of Defense leading our military in the wrong direction. Railing at his critics, while the President stands by his side and froths at the mouth with him in unison and his grand plan to "Remake the Middle East" slowly turns to ashes.

It's not that all his ideas are wrong, I do not disagree that remaking the middle-east into a democratic and peaceful region is a worthy goal. The problem is you can't spread freedom and respect for the institutions of law at the point of a gun. Particularly when you do everything you can to ignore those very same institutions - habeaus corpus, probable cause, cruel and inhumane treatment, fair and open trials - at home.

This country is headed for a change, and if Bush keeps putting his foot in his mouth - a habitual action - that change is more likely to come sooner, rather than later.

Vyan

Tuesday, September 5

Clarke debunks ABC Mockudrama

The upcoming 2-Part ABC Docudrama "The Path to 9/11" features a key scene during it's first night "where former National Security Adviser Sandy Berger refuses to give the order to the CIA to take out bin Laden -- even though CIA agents, along with the Northern Alliance, have his house surrounded".

But Thinkprogress now has a response from former Counter-Terrorism Chief [and on-air ABC Consultant] Richard Clarke which indicates that this scene never happened.

In the film the situation is depicted as:

The CIA, the Northern Alliance, surrounding a house where bin Laden is in Afghanistan, they're on the verge of capturing, but they need final approval from the Clinton administration in order to proceed.

So they phoned Washington. They phoned the White House. Clinton and his senior staff refused to give authorization for the capture of bin Laden because they're afraid of political fallout if the mission should go wrong, and if civilians were harmed...Now, the CIA agent in this is portrayed as being astonished. "Are you kidding?" He asked Berger over and over, "Is this really what you guys want?"

Berger then doesn't answer after giving his first admonition, "You guys go in on your own. If you go in we're not sanctioning this, we're not approving this," and Berger just hangs up on the agent after not answering any of his questions.

This is an old canard, one that first arose just days after the 9/11 attack.

Clarke's response:

1. Contrary to the movie, no US military or CIA personnel were on the ground in Afghanistan and saw bin Laden.

2. Contrary to the movie, the head of the Northern Alliance, Masood, was no where near the alleged bin Ladin camp and did not see UBL.

3. Contrary to the movie, the CIA Director actually said that he could not recommend a strike on the camp because the information was single sourced and we would have no way to know if bin Laden was in the target area by the time a cruise missile hit it.

Thinkprogress notes:

According to the 9/11 Commission Report (pg. 199), then-CIA Director George Tenet had the authority from President Clinton to kill Bin Laden. Roger Cressy, former NSC director for counterterrorism, has written, "Mr. Clinton approved every request made of him by the CIA and the U.S. military involving using force against bin Laden and al-Qaeda."

The facts stand in stark contrast to the film, which was apparently written by a "friend" of Rush Limbaugh's.

Yet there's even more data which makes the claims made by this movie against the Clinton Administration even more outlandish. As early as 1996 concerted efforts by Clinton to increase our anti-terrorism funding and the capabilities were blocked by the Republican Congress.

"We need to keep this country together right now. We need to focus on this terrorism issue," Clinton said during a White House news conference.

But while the president pushed for quick legislation, Republican lawmakers hardened their stance against some of the proposed anti-terrorism measures.

One key GOP senator was more critical, calling a proposed study of chemical markers in explosives "a phony issue."

Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, emerged from the meeting and said, "These are very controversial provisions that the White House wants. Some they're not going to get."

"If they want to, they can study the thing" already, Hatch asserted. He also said he had some problems with the president's proposals to expand wiretapping.

It may be possible that "Path to 9/11" author Cyrus Nowrasteh didn't completely make up the scene of Bin Laden's escape from U.S. Forces - he simply transplanted it to before 9/11, when in fact this harrowing escape by Bin laden took place in 2001 at Tora Bora.

The Bush administration has concluded that Osama bin Laden was present during the battle for Tora Bora late last year and that failure to commit U.S. ground troops to hunt him was its gravest error in the war against al Qaeda, according to civilian and military officials with first-hand knowledge.

Intelligence officials have assembled what they believe to be decisive evidence, from contemporary and subsequent interrogations and intercepted communications, that bin Laden began the battle of Tora Bora inside the cave complex along Afghanistan's mountainous eastern border. Though there remains a remote chance that he died there, the intelligence community is persuaded that bin Laden slipped away in the first 10 days of December.

During his term President Clinton considered Osama Bin Laden to be a grave threat and top priority. He vastly increased counter-terrorism funding, refocused priorities including creation of the "Bin Laden Desk" at CIA which was headed by Michael Scheuer - but the fact is that Clinton not only had enemies in the Republican Congress, he had enemies within the goverment and military who sloughed off his requests and even dragged their feet when given direct orders to Kill Bin Laden.

From Richard Clarke's Against All Enemies pg 225-226.

Because of the intesity of the political opposition that Clinton engendered, he had been heavily criticized for bombing al Qaeda camps in Afghanistan, for engaging in "Wag the Dog" tactics to divert attention from a scandal about his personal life. For similar reasons, he could not fire the recalcitrant FBI Director [Republican Louis Freeh] who had failed to fix the Bureau or to uncover errrorists in the United States. He had given the CIA unprecedented authority to go after bin Laden personaly and al Qaeda, but had not taken steps when they did little or nothing.

Because Clinton was criticized as a Vietnam War opponent without a military record, he was limited in his ability to direct the military to engage in anti-terrorist commando operations they did not want to conduct.

In the absense of a bigger provocation from al Qaeda to silence his critics, Clinton thought he could do no more. Nonetheless, he put in place the plans and programs that allowed America to respond to the big attacks when they did come, sweeping away political barriers to action.

Despites his efforts and his hammering on counter-terrorism as a priority - Clinton was often ignored and derided by his political opponents. He could "do no more" because Congress and the Military wouldn't let him do more.

"..Enemies" page 204.

On the issue of the White House authorizing CIA to kill bin Laden, much has been written. Several reporters, including Barton Gellman in the Washington Post of December 19, 2001, have written that President Cliton approved multiple intelligence documents authorizing CIA to use lethal force against Osama bin Laden and his deputies. Sandy Berger elaborated before the Join House-Senate Inquiry Committee, saying. "We received rulings in the Department of Justice not to prohibit our efforts to try to kill bin Laden, because [the assasination ban] did not apply to situation in which you're acting in self-defense or you're acting against command-and-control targets"

Yet bin Laden was not killed. President Clinton as reported in USA Today [November 13.3001] reflectetd his frustration by noting "I tried to take bin Laden out... the last four years I was in office."

The Assasination Ban was no small legal issue, but was simply used as an excuse to not accomplish the mission. Time after time, the Military and CIA balked when oppurtunities arose to kill bin Laden. When the issue of arming the Predator drone with missles was considered, then CIA director George Tenet didn't want responsibility for giving kill order, he was quoted by reporters as saying "It would be a terrible mistake" to have the CIA conduct an assasination as it would endanger the lives of CIA operatives around the world.

The bottom line is that they didn't take bin Laden seriously and thought Clinton and his deputies including Berger and Clarke had "Osama on the Brain". Clarke continued...

When Clinton left office many people, including the incoming Bush administration leadership, thought that he and his administration were overly obsessed with al Qaeda. After all, al Qaeda had killed only a few Americans, nothing like the hundreds of Marines who died at the hands of Beirut terrorists during the Reagan administration or the hundreds of Americans who were killed by Libya on Pan Am 103during the first Bush's administration. Those two acts had not provoked U.S. military retaliation. Why was Clinton so worked up about al Qaeda and why did he talk to President-elect Bush about it and have Sandy Berger raise it with his successor as National Security Advisor Condi Rice?

Why indeed?

Better question, why did BushGov completely ignore these urgent warnings about OBL - and the bombing of the U.S.S. Cole - until August of 2001?

Vyan

Monday, September 4

Rock Star: Week 10 Reality

After letting off some steam with a food fight and collective jump in the pool (Naked in Storm's case - sorry no pics), Songwriting Colaboration Day with Gilby arrived, and each of the hamsters have been given a brand new Supernova track to put their own melodies and lyrics to - then work on with Gilby.

The results were somewhat expected and surprising at the same time. The new track is probably one of the coolest and most modern tracks we've heard from Supernova yet. They just might not be stuck somewhere in the late 70's after all.

First up was Storm whom Gilby said lots of respectful things about "She a total professional... she knows how to blend having fun and getting the job done" - but he didn't say much of anything about the song she wrote. It was a lot like going out on a date with someone and then saying "They have a nice personality". Kiss of death time. It's clear they like Storm as a musician and a person, but they are feeling that kind of magnetism it takes to make a permanent relationship work. They're had previous been hints that Gilby didn't feel Storm would be "the One", and this was more along that line. Still, the Suave Porn guys don't always agree on everything so we'll just have to wait.

Gilby's reaction to Magni's song wasn't very encouraging either. Being ESL does make things a challenge for him, but the chemistry just wasn't there. Again, no spark. No fire. No passion. "He's got a nice personality...."

Lukas has been given credit for being the best songwriter, or at least the one with the best feel for Supernova's direction based on the previous song clinic. He also wrote the chorus hook that was used in the team-writing clinic - this time he came in with a verse and a chorus, but that's all and Gilby found it "irritating". He'd just written enough to "get by" and probably figures this is "his competition to lose". Gilby liked what he wrote, and commented that Lukas didn't do the obvious thing with his melodies - but also that his song needed the most work.

Before watching this episode I went back through the video archives to get a better feel for how these people actually write, instead of just the snippets that the producers give us which can greatly skew the reality of the situation, and the fact is the best sounding songs from the last songwriting clinic were by Jill and Josh - both of whom were cut that week.

That song didn't have a lot of harmonic motion and tended to just vamp on a single chord (with one quick change just before the chorus). The reason even the final SN version which was performed by Dilana sounds dull is because the song doesn't go anywhere musically. But both Josh and Jill created movement by singing innovative verse melodies that went against the grain and held back the tension until allowing it to expode in the chorus. In the reality ep that week Tommy made a comment that Jill was "over the top" but the fact is she only hit one full power note during the bridge, the rest of the song was very well balanced. In my own view Josh's voice actually sounded the best on that Supernova track, he'd calmed down all the excess R&Bism and gruffed his voice out to sound a lot like Layne Stayley. It was really cool, and with that sound they would have gone done the path of Velvet Revolver, which isn't a bad place to be. Unfortunately he's gone now.

Patrice's lyrics and melody were also pretty damn good - she sounded a lot like Chrissy Hind on the Supernova track.

Lukas's chorus melody on that song was real simple, but so much so that it was actually dull - it only had three notes, repeated in different order - and then on the chorus his melody and rythm matched the guitar line exactly. Of course it only took him 15 minutes, he had only put words to what Gilby had already written. He was only doing the minimum then, and only the minimum now. It's a bad habit.

The one person that really seemed to get Gilby excited with not just his lyrics but also his melodies was Toby. He seem to be doing things from a fresh perspective and giving Gilby ideas he hadn't thought of - which he really liked. Rather than having to baby-sit and rescue Toby's song, he was largely able to sit back and just enjoy it. It's always nice when someone else has done all the work for you.

And then we had the crash and burner of the day - Dilana. Who'd decided to write a song to bitch out the online fans for voting her into the bottom three. Imaginative? Classy? Not hardly. That was a punk-ass shallow move, and more likely as anything to get her sent back to the B3 again. Gilby thought it was cliched, and that's probably putting it mildly. It's hackneyed. Dilana simply isn't a songwriter, in her confessional she admitted she didn't know that writting would be such a big part of this deal. (Obviously she didn't watch last season, all of these song-writing clinics they're going through this team are being repeated from then.) Gilby, "If you're not bringing anything, what do I need you for?"

Ouch.

Oh, how the mighty Dilana has fallen.

After this came song selection and immediately Dilana and Lukas began to look horns over "Behind Blue Eyes" by the Who. Dilana wanted it because the lyrics spoke to her and how she feels at this point - (no longer the "Psycho Killer, eh?") - which again is obvious and basically cliched. Why don't you flog yourself with a riding crop on stage while you're at it? Sheesh. Self-absorbed much? Eventually Magni jumped in to break things up and trick Lukas into doing Bon Jovi's "Living on a Prayer" by appealing to his ego -- "You're the only one who can do it dude..." I'm not sure if that was a good thing for Dilana or simply doing what he could to dodge the bullet from the obvious bare-trap song - like "I Will Survive" was for Storm.

The week is also the first "set" week where the performers will do a two-song set - including one cover and one original. Storm is obviously going to be doing one her strongest songs - "Lady Like" which from what I can tell is going to give the network censors hot flashes with a chorus that asks 'What the Fuck is Lady Like?" In a lot of ways Storm has been surpressing her most balls-out tendencies by taking the bare-trap songs time and time again. Yeah, ok she can sing anything -but has she really shown Supernova who she really is - and what she's capable of? I've found that I like her performances better the second time I watch or listen -- but has Supernova already written her off, or while they find something entirely new - while Toby has clearly jumped out far ahead as the front-runner not only with the fans but quite possibly with Supernova themselves.

Dilana in yet another possible bone-headed move fought had for "Behind Blue Eyes", but she's never really heard the song -- not even the Limp Bizkit version - so Miss-can't-write-a-song has decided to modify the arrangement. Oh Lordy - Train wreck on deck.

Tuesday's performance show should be extremely interesting even without Zayra and Ryan's theatrics.

My guess at point for the final three - Storm, Lukas and Toby with Toby probably winning.

Vyan

Sunday, September 3

If Democrats were in Control...

Today on Face the Nation, Senate Majority Whip Mitch McConnell presented the Republican Position Version 2.0 on why they should retain control of Congress.

Because, he said if Democrats were in Control...
Saddam Hussein would still be in Power and murdering his own people.
Since we've been in Iraq Iraqbodycount.net has a minimum estimate that 41,000 civilians have been killed since the War began. Does anyone in their right mind think that Saddam would have caused this many deaths, or created this much destruction if he were still in power? He had No Weapons of Mass Destruction, no impending Nuclear Enrichment Program and no active ties to Al Qaeda. And yet, we have people like Bully O'Leily saying we should be running Iraq just like Saddam. So his remaining in power - and remaining disarmed - would have been a bad thing compared to the state of Iraq now?

He also stated.
It would be more difficult to engage in terrorist surveillance.
Yes, you would have to have that pesky probable cause thingy - showing that the people involved were actually terrorists and get a FISA Warrant. But clearly the Republicans think tracking tens of millions of innocent phone calls, spying on teachers and pacifists who have nothing to do with terrorism is a much better use of our time and resources.

If Democrats were in control...
They would have us treat the Prisoners in Guantanemo better than our own soldiers in the justice system.
Well, actually the Democrats would simply have us pay attention to the 8th and 14th Amendments of the Constitution - which prohibit cruel and unusual punishment and require "all persons within the jurisdiction of the state... the equal protection of the laws", respectively. Republicans thought the 14th was a real handy Amendment when they wanted to block the recount in Florida, but suddenly when it and the Supreme Court (not Democrats) start requiring that the President actually live up to the 14th - they can't handle it.

Just before McConnell spoke on the program Howard Dean had answered questions -
Just look at the angry face that Dean showed you. That's what Democrats do.
1) Dean wasn't particularly angry 2) If funny faces is what the Republicans are really worried about - they're in much bigger trouble than even they realize. One thing that Dean did point out however is that Democrats do have a plan to handle National Security - it's right here - while the Republicans have blocked various Democratic proposals to improve funding and supplies for first responders, and to better protect our ports. He pointed out that Osama Bin Laden- the terrorist who really did attack us on 9-11, unlike Saddam - is Still At Large.

Let me just add that Republicans let Osama Escape from Tora Bora, they've cut back on police. They've mismanaged Iraq and lost $8.8 Billion down a rathole.
If we cut and run, they'll (the Terrorists will) follow us here (to America)
Yeah, I remember how when we cut and ran out of Saigon, the Vietcong followed us right to Santa Ana and starting setting up Nail Polish stores.
That's what Democrats will do (if they gain power), they'll cut and run out of Iraq, they'll raise taxes and they'll Impeach the President.
1) Supposedly Iraqis have finished building their government. With that in place the Democrats want the Iraq Forces to finally Stand on their Own Feet. The Bush Administration has done a piss-poor job of training and equiping them, that needs to change. If it does - and they finally begin to stand up - we can stand down. If we need to set a deadline for them in order to put some fire under their ass - so be it. But no Democrat has proposed we leave without getting that job done.

2) "Raising taxes" by putting them back to where they were when we were running at a Surplus that would have protected Social Security for the next 70 years, and created over 12 Million Jobs - isn't a a bad thing. Giving tax breaks to corporations for shipping jobs overseas is a very bad thing and it needs to stop. My feeling has always been that we shouldn't simply repeal the Bush Cuts, Democrats should follow John Kerry's proposal to provide tax breaks and benefits to individuals and companies who invest in America. If people invest in Alternative Energy and Fuels, if they provide Health Care and protect the Pensions of their workers, if they help them pay for college and hire people off of welfare - they should get tax breaks. But if they want to go off and party like Paris Hilton - they should pay the full fare.

3) Oh God, I hope so...

Vyan