Saturday, October 29, 2005

The spin, the spin...

One of the spins about Plamegate is that the CIA didn't have to pull out any of their undercover operatives abroad, so there was no damage done.

It has been pointed out elsewhere that the CIA would keep this information highly secret, so there has been yet another leak of sensitive information for political purposes. But that misses the point.

CIA operatives abroad fall into three categories:

Non-Official Cover (NOC)
These are the people like Plame herself. CIA staffers, they purportedly work for a front company like Brewster-Jennings and Associates. They do not have diplomatic passports so can be arrested for spying. So, if the talking points are right, none of these people (thankfully) have been placed in danger, although they may have been compromised. The difference is significant: if a foreign country figures out that you were a CIA staffer while you're back in the US then you cannot return but the CIA didn't have to recall you to ensure your safety.

Official Cover
These are the embassy staff who are really CIA staffers. A large proportion of the staff of any embassy are spies. But they are nominally embassy staff and have diplomatic passports, so cannot be arrested for spying. By definition, none of these people were ever in any danger, although their positions may have been compromised (as in "Now we're sure he's a spy so we're going to watch him even more closely").

Recruited US Nationals
For operational reasons, the CIA relies upon people working for real (not front) US companies spying in their spare time. These may also have been compromised, but fortunately none of them were at the time of their compromise in a country they were spying upon.

What does that leave? All the poor fuckers Plame personally recruited in foreign countries. These are not CIA "undercover operatives" they are sources. These are the foreign nationals Plame spoke to often under cover of working for the front company of Brewster-Jennings and associates. The foreign nationals who decided that the US was ruled by better people than the petty tyrant of their own country and decided to help the US. The foreign nationals who are now, as a result of the outing of Plame, in jail (and possibly undergoing torture).

Actually, the foreign nationals recruited by Plame may have had contacts with other CIA staffers, or the US nationals used as go-betweens. Or maybe not. "Hmmm, Plame talked to X and Y. John Doe also talked to X and Y. That means John Doe is probably a CIA staffer, or a go-between. John Doe also talked with Z. That means Z is a traitor." The links are going to be traced forwards and backwards, and if Mr Z is completely innocent but implicated by the spiderweb then that is his tough luck.

The CIA cannot protect these foreign nationals at risk. The CIA cannot withdraw these people (to withdraw them would be to return them to their country of origin, which is where they now languish in jail).

So the talking point may be factually correct. US citizens, either employed by the CIA or spying on behalf of the CIA, have not have had to be withdrawn. Many may have been compromised, so will be withdrawn, but they did not have to be (they weren't in danger so didn't have to be withdrawn but they no longer served any purpose so were withdrawn). The fact that the network of foreign nationals willing to provide information to the US has been completely fucked is not addressed by the talking point.

An apolitical post

For once, an apolitical post.

I remember a time, maybe 20-25 years ago, when the UK was deluged by adverts from a new ready-cooked food company. It was McCain. Their TV adverts were beguiling. But by that time I was old enough to realize the difference between an advert and the product, so I did not immediately try their products.

However, the day came when I had an urge for some black pudding (known in the US as "blood pudding", a mix of congealed pig's blood, other ingredients, and a mix of spices unique to the manufacturer). The local shop, where I was doing my shopping, didn't have any of their usual unpackaged black pudding. But the urge was so strong that when I saw some McCain black pudding I bought it. It was fucking crap. Disgusting, vile-tasting crap. I resolved never to buy another McCain product again.

But, years later, as luck would have it, I was shopping and had an urge for some foodstuff (I cannot remember what) and the only variety available was from McCain. I debated with myself for many minutes. My first thought was that each of us are individuals with our own likes and dislikes. I reasoned that black pudding, the flavour of which is strongly dependent upon the mix of spices unique to the manufacturer, meant that just because I thought McCain black pudding was despicable crap I might, even so, enjoy McCain's other products. But on the other hand, if McCain's resident chefs thought that their black pudding was wonderful when I thought it tasted like pig shit gone sour, their tastes might not precisely correlate with my own. The urge won out. And whatever McCain foodstuff it was that I bought, it was just as fucking vile as their black pudding.

Over the years, this experience repeated itself several times. I had an urge for a particular foodstuff. The shop had run out of all alternatives but the McCain variety. Even though I knew better, I bought it anyway, only to be bitterly disappointed because it turned out to be disgusting shit I wouldn't give to my worst enemy.

Time passes. Once again I found myself with an urge whilst shopping. Once again, the only variety of what I wanted was from McCain. (And, once again, I proved that too much alcohol really screws up your memory because I cannot remember what it was.) I reasoned that if "Once bitten, twice shy." is a valid statement then "Twice bitten, don't fucking try it again." is another valid statement. But, in my urge to be fair, I couldn't see how McCain could have stayed in business for 15 years by selling disgusting, unpleasant, evil fucking crap and that they must have replaced their useless fucking chefs with ones who had a sense of taste. And anyway, the urge was strong. So I succumbed. Once again, this was the most disgusting crap I had ever tasted.

I have learned my lesson. For the past ten years there has been no fucking way that I would ever purchase anything made by McCain, unless it was to give it as a present to my worst enemy. McCain = total fucking crap. If my life depended upon consuming a certain foodstuff and the only manufacturer of that foodstuff I could find in the shops was McCain, I would resign myself to my death.

The McCain adverts are appealing, but the reality is fucking awful. The promises are beguiling but the reality is nothing but abject disappointment.

Note to anyone who thinks I am making a subtle reference to John McCain, Republican Senator for Arizona. McCain foods exists (see the link above). McCain foods have very beguiling adverts. Every McCain product I have ever tried has left me feeling that I have been sold inedible, disgusting crap. Just so I don't get sued for libel, let me point out that this is my personal opinion of McCain products. There is no fucking way on this planet I will ever again buy anything made by McCain because it tastes to me like total fucking crap.

However, to those who are still thinking of Senator McCain and the difference between his words and deeds, and comparing them to the gigantic void I perceive between McCain adverts and their products, if the cap fits, fucking wear it.

Presidential Choice of Pet

Surprising as it may seem, the presidential choice of pet is important. The choice between a cat and a dog is a key indicator of the relationship between the President and the people.

As we are all aware, cats and dogs differ in almost all respects. But there is one way in which they are identical: you establish the relationship with eye contact.

With a dog, you stare it down. You look into its eyes. You don't look away even if it's snarling and looks about to attack. You don't even blink. Eventually, the dog will look to the side as though bored, but you must keep your eyes on it. After a few seconds the dog will look back at you and it must see that your gaze has not shifted. The dog may look away several more times, and you must remain steadfast. Eventually the dog concludes that you are the boss and will either try to be friendly or run away shitting itself with fear.

With a cat you look briefly into its eyes then close your eyes. Then scrunch up your eyelids really tight. Then turn your head to the side for five or ten seconds, with your eyelids still scrunched shut. Then slowly turn your head back to where the cat was (and may, if you're lucky, still be). Then slowly unscrunch your eyelids. Finally, open your eyes. If all went well the cat is still where it was and it now knows that it is the boss. Actually, the cat knew it was the boss all along, it just wanted to know if you knew that too, in which case the cat might adopt you as a servant/pet.

Now consider what a President is meant to be. The US Constitution says that government is by, of and for the people. The President is a tool the people choose to use in order to deal with boring things that they'd prefer to delegate to a public servant (but only as long as he behaves himself and follows their wishes). The President is there to do the bidding of the people, not vice-versa. Some Presidents have lived up to the ideal and considered the people to be the boss. Other Presidents have let power go to their heads and decided that they know better than the people and they are the boss.

So what does the Presidential choice of pet indicate? A dog means that the person owning it wants a servile puppet who will do his every bidding and treat him as a god. A cat means that the person the cat temporarily adopted as a servant/pet, for only as long as the cat deems it beneficial, is a decent person with a respect for the rights and desires of other beings. Consider the two:

  • The dog is hungry. It crawls over to its God in supplication because it knows its God occasionally deigns to feed it. Sometimes its God doesn't feed it, but that's because Gods are incredibly busy with lots of other things to do, so that's OK. The dog prays to its God for food by rearing up on its hind legs and drooping its front paws. Sometimes that gets its God's attention, sometimes it doesn't, but that's OK because Gods have lots of things to do. Sometimes it even has the temerity to try to remind its God that it is hungry by licking its God: when it was a puppy and after it had been weaned it would lick its parent's muzzles and they would regurgitate solid food for it, but that rarely seems to work with God. (And why would it? Gods must feed in different ways from mere dogs.)

    The cat is hungry. It reminds its servant/pet that it is the servant/pet's duty to feed it by rubbing the servant/pet's legs. If the cat doesn't get fed fairly quickly, it is likely to claw the servant/pet then look for a new servant/pet to adopt.

  • The dog needs a crap. It knows God gets terribly upset and wreaks fearful vengeance if the dog craps in the house, so it keeps it in. The dog keeps wandering over to the door in the hope that God will divine that it needs a crap, but knows that God is terribly busy doing God-like things. Finally, the dog starts howling in pain, even though he knows that God hates it when he howls. Even though he is busting for a crap, the dog keeps it in until God permits it.

    The cat needs a crap. The cat litter hasn't been changed for two days and is too smelly to use. If the servant/pet can't be bothered to change the litter, it needs to be taught a lesson. So the cat craps in the servant/pet's shoe. The servant/pet had better fucking learn or it's going to be replaced.

  • God hasn't been paying much attention to the dog lately. The dog really hates it when God doesn't pay attention and pet him, but Gods are far too busy to cater to a dog's every whim.

    The servant/pet has been a bit slow on the uptake recently. Not getting the right brand of catfood and fobbing the cat off with some cheap crap. Fuck you, servant/pet, you had your chance, now you're history.

George Wanker Bush has pet dogs. Enough said.

What you can expect next Fitzmas

Some of you may be wondering if there even will be another Fitzmas. It's not guaranteed, but it's probable. See this article. It mentions Fitz's activities in another case. To summarise the other case:

  • In 1998, the investigation of a fatal accident revealed truckers were purchasing commercial licenses from state official.
  • Fitz works his way, month by month, year by year, through 66 defendents.
  • In 2003, five years later, Fitz indicted the 66th defendent, former Illinois Governor George Ryan, on corruption charges

Like the Energizer Bunny, Fitz just keeps on going. And he doesn't stop until he's indicted everyone who is indictable, right the way to the top. He'll compare different testimony against physical evidence and use perjury, obstruction of justice, making false statements and conspiracy to leverage testimony out of people. Once he's driven the wedge in a little bit further, he'll use that to go after others.

I know, I know. You all want to know what you'll be getting next Fitzmas. There's no way of knowing for sure, but there are hints.

  • All but one of the journalists testified upon first (or maybe second) request. The only hold-out was Miller, and she went to jail for contempt of court. None of the others went to jail for contempt of court.

  • That means Novak testified.

  • Novak said, in the column that started all this, that he was told about Plame by two senior administration officials. And since Novak testified, Fitzgerald knows who those two are.

  • Read the Libby indictments carefully. It mentions his statements to several journalists, but Novak was not one of them.

  • Novak leaked Plame's name, remember?

  • I can't remember if it was the indictment, the press release or Fitz's press conference transcript, but one of them specifically stated that Libby had told both Miller and Cooper that Plame was Wilson's wife. He had not said that to Russert, and that was also specifically stated (in fact Russert says that Libby didn't mention anything to him about Wilson or Plame, although Libby said he did).

So either Fitz has some reason not to bring up Libby telling Novak about Plame (that's not impossible) or Libby was not one of the two senior administration officials who leaked Plame's name to Novak. And that would mean that there is not just one other person (almost certainly Rove, as he and Novak have done this sort of thing before) that Novak has implicated but two.

If Libby didn't speak to Novak and Rove did, who could be the other senior administration official who spoke to Novak? How senior? The same level as Libby and Rove? A lower level? A higher level?

Over in the UK we had a stupid TV game show where cards were turned over, one at a time, to reveal their value. Based on the last card turned over, the contestant had to predict whether the next card would be higher or lower. The audience would shout their advice: "Lower" or "Higher." I'll be screaming myself hoarse: Higher! Higher! Higher!

Leaving, on a jet plane, don't know when I'll be back again

Holy Fuck! I just heard Fitz is gonna indicticate me next. I'm getting the fuck out of here. I need the pilot to take me to a place where there's no extraperdition treaty.

I wonder if the pilot has enough fuel to get me to Mars.

Yoohoo!!!!! George!!!!!!

Yoohoo!!!!! George!!!!!!

This is how many fingers you hold up for five.

I still think you're the smartest man I ever met!!!!!!!!

Even if Laura has turned her back on you and won't help you with your counting problem.

Let me try to cheer you up. Here's a poem I wrote about you.

Roses are red

Violets are blue

You're the smartest man I ever met

And you are so cool

Count 'em

That bastard, Fitzgerald. Five indictments. Count 'em, five.

Hey, Laura, I promised you I'd stopped drinking. It was mouthwash you smelled on my breath. Honest. So now will you please turn around and check that I'm holding up the right number of fingers for five?

Friday, October 28, 2005

30 Years!

From Fitz's press realease I see that if Scooter is found guilty on all five counts, and if Scooter receives the maximum sentence for each count, and if the judge sentences him to serve those terms sequentially rather than concurrently, that's 30 years in prison!

So much for the right-wing spin machine that perjury is a minor matter (except when it's Clinton lying about consensual sex).

Anybody know what the law is? Does Fitz have to hit Libby with every indictment at once or can he hit him with indictments for other crimes as they are discovered? For instance, if Fitz indicts Rove later, then surely Libby and Rove also committed conspiracy. And quite probably worse. The investigation is continuing, it would appear, so a lot more against Libby may turn up. It would be a great shame if Fitz couldn't indict him some more.

Some advice for Scooter: If you drop the soap in the prison shower then do not bend over to pick it up unless you're in the mood for sex. If you are ordered to give somebody oral sex then do so as though your life depends upon it - it probably does (oh, and be sure to swoosh it around your mouth before swallowing and then tell him how absolutely yummy it was - do not spit it out).

That Bastard Fitzgerald!

[Libby] That fucking bastard Fitzgerald! He fucking kneecapped me. With a fucking aluminum baseball bat. Both fucking kneecaps.

[Chorus of reporters] You fucking deserved it.

[Disgraced reporter] You're no fucking good to me in bed now, Scooter. So you can take your aspens and stick them where the sun don't shine and see if they still turn then.

[Rove] Does anyone have a change of underwear? I just shat myself.

[Cheney] Suitcase nuke. Fitzgerald's offices. Blame it on Syria so we can invade them next. Right fucking now.

[Bush]What, me worry?

Libby Indictments

I've just read through the Libby indictments and two quotations spring to mind. The one most people will immediately think of is by Rabbie Burns:

Oh what a tangled web we weave

When first we practise to deceive

Although that's not entirely appropriate, for this is far from the first time Scooter has practised deceiving people. Deception always results in a tangled web no matter how much you practise. The better quotation is by Robert Green Ingersoll. He was a lawyer. The first lawyer in the US, and probably in the world, to introduce handwriting analysis. He made an otherwise unimpeccable case with his handwriting analysis but his expert witness botched the ink analysis and the jury went against him (in my opinion, wrongly so). It was in that case that Ingersoll said this:

There is this beautiful peculiarity in nature - a lie never fits a fact, never. You only fit a lie with another lie, made for the express purpose, because you can change a lie but you can't change a fact, and after a while the time comes when the last lie you tell has to be fitted to a fact, and right there is a bad joint; consequently you must test the statements of people who say they saw, not by what they say but by other facts, by the surroundings, by what are called probabilities; by the naturalness of the statement.

All the lies that Scooter told failed to fit with the facts. In many cases, the lies he told one person didn't even fit the lies he told another person.

Next Fitzmas

Next Fitzmas may come sooner than I thought. From this Washington Post article (registration required, but you can give a completely bogus e-mail address):

Libby was indicted on charges of perjury, obstruction of justice and making false statements. The five-count indictment charged that he gave misleading information to the grand jury, allegedly lying about information he discussed with three news reporters. It alleged that he committed perjury before the grand jury in March 2004 and that he also lied to FBI agents investigating the case.

Despite what the Whitehouse spin machine may say, those are pretty serious charges carrying serious prison sentences.

The article also says:

Sources close to the case said the investigation of Rove is continuing.

So Rove is not out of the woods yet.

The article also says:

An attorney for Rove, Robert Luskin, said in a statement this morning, "The Special Counsel has advised Mr. Rove that he has made no decision about whether or not to bring charges and that Mr. Rove's status has not changed. Mr. Rove will continue to cooperate fully with the Special Counsel's efforts to complete the investigation. We are confident that when the Special Counsel finishes his work, he will conclude that Mr. Rove has done nothing wrong."

But then goes on to say:

Rove provided new information to Fitzgerald during eleventh-hour negotiations that "gave Fitzgerald pause" about charging Bush's senior strategist, said a source close to Rove. "The prosecutor has to resolve those issues before he decides what to do."

That's very significant. It means Rove either came up with something that's going to make it difficult for Fitz to get a conviction or Rove just tried for a plea-bargain by dropping Bush and/or Cheney in the shit. Fitz's known MO is to flip the underlings to get the big-wigs, so if Rove did some more flipping why would Fitz not have made up his mind? Because he needs confirmation from somebody else. Who else? Well, who just got slammed with five indictments...

The final interesting bit:

Although the focus has been on Rove and Libby, Cheney himself has been publicly implicated in recent days in the chain of events that led to the exposure of Plame. The New York Times reported Monday that Fitzgerald possesses notes taken by Libby showing that he learned about Plame from the vice president a month before she was identified by Novak. The White House did not dispute the report.

Two interpretations are possible.

  1. Fitz can prove that Libby has been a really bad boy, whereas Rove came up with something in his defense at the last minute that makes it difficult for Fitz to get a conviction against Rove. Fitz cannot justify indictments against anyone higher up the ladder. This is the worst-case scenario.

  2. Libby cut a deal that dropped Rove in the crap (which is why Rove shortly afterwards was called to testify a fourth time), and Libby's notebook implicated Cheney but wasn't sufficient by itself and held back on other stuff. Fitz then gave Rove his fourth working over and Rove confirmed Cheney was involved and at the last minute came up with even more stuff against Cheney and/or Bush but needs Libby to come out with stuff Libby withheld.

    So the deal is Rove might go free (because he implicated Bush and/or Cheney) but only if Libby backs him up, otherwise Rove is toast. And Libby, for holding back stuff that Rove blabbed, is facing five indictments (which could still be plea-bargained away if he confirms what Rove said, and is what Fitz hopes he'll do).

Please, let it be the best-case scenario. Even I'd drop most (maybe even all) of the charges against Libby and Rove in order to get Bush and/or Cheney (preferably both).


I expect there will soon be variations of this joke all over the blogosphere, on TV shows, and in newspaper cartoon. But it's too good to resist.

Fitzmas came and went and all I got was this lousy scooter. :(

But there's always next Fitzmas. :)

You have to let your dreams rove where they will. Maybe next Fitzmas I'll get an adult video with some dick and some bush in it.

More seriously, one evil shit down, at least three even more evil shits to go.

Wednesday, October 26, 2005

A bolt out of the blue

Some of you may have noticed I have a tendency to post about the insanity that is religion. Since these lunatics want to turn the US into a theocracy, I think my obsession is justified.

So let's talk about thunder and lightning. A powerful force of nature that struck awe and dread into the hearts of man. In just about every religion you can name, it was God (or the chief of the Gods) throwing his lightning bolts at those who upset him. For the Vikings it was Thor and his magic hammer that caused lightning bolts. For the Romans it was Jove. For the Greeks it was Jupiter. Their chief God was an irate bugger who personally went around throwing lightning bolts at people. And for the Christians it was God. As the hymn has it:

His chariots of wrath

The deep thunderclouds form

And dark is his path

On the wings of the storm.

In fact lightning was one of the main reasons for believing that there was such a thing as a God. It caused violent damage (trees can literally explode as their sap turns instantly to superheated steam). It was capricious about who and what it hit, as though it was being controlled by somebody with human failings, superhuman powers and a list of people who had pissed him off. It was accompanied by a fucking loud noise. Twice I've had lightning strike very, very close to me. There is a bright flash which is accompanied at the very same instant by a very loud noise. Like a bomb had gone off. The first time it happened it was the first thunder of the storm, so I hadn't unplugged my modem, so my modem got fried. The second time it happened the storm came towards me slowly so I unplugged my modem before it got fried. Both times required a change of underwear. It's easy to understand why people would think that some invisible sky being was having a hissy fit.

All monotheistic religions also face a common problem: God doesn't behave as expected. The sinful rich often go unpunished while the pious poor often suffer from disease. You can only say "He'll get his comeuppance in Hell" and "She'll get her reward in Heaven" so many times before you start to wonder if God really does exist. But never fear, "God moves in mysterious ways, his wonders to perform." So you're just too stupid to understand God's master plan and while it may seem like God is doing the exact opposite of what you'd expect, it's just that you don't comprehend the full plan. Religion is full of Orwellian doublethink like that - it has to be in order to reconcile theology with reality.

BTW, is it just me, or does anyone else immediately think of the Monty Python sketch The Ministry of Silly Walks when they see the phrase "God moves in mysterious ways"?

Anyway, when Christianity got going it decided to have churches instead of synagogues. The floor-plan of a church was shaped like a cross. Well, not really, because the Roman cross that Jesus was crucified upon was shaped like a T without the short upright by his head. So the floor-plan of a church is in the shape of the fictional cross that we see represented in a crucifix. And these churches had steeples. High towers.

Here's the problem. Those church steeples kept getting hit by lightning because they were usually the highest points around. But lightning is the personal, direct wrath of God. God punishing his own churches. Whoops! A bit difficult to reconcile.

Were the religious even remotely rational, they might take it as a sign that God wasn't entirely happy with their new religion and abandon it. Were the religious even remotely rational, they might take it as a sign that God hated the architectural design of their churches and they should come up with a different design (which, if they had abandoned the steeples, would actually have worked). Instead they decided that it must be demons throwing the lightning at their churches.

When you think about it, that was a major step to take. Previously lightning had been God's own personal way of dispensing wrath. Now not just Satan, but any minor demon, could throw lightning around. Even worse, God, who is omnipotent (all-fucking-powerful) and omnipresent (everywhere at fucking once) could not stop these petty demons blowing up churches! Of course, the way the religious got around this very large problem was (as with any other contradiction in their thinking) to pretend it didn't exist and ignore it.

Over the centuries, the Christians came up with the idea that ringing the church bells would scare the demons away and defend the church from lightning. Mediæval church bells were often inscribed with Fulgura Frango, meaning "I break up the lightning flashes." And a lot of bell-ringers were killed during thunderstorms as lightning hit the tower (which housed the bells) and followed the rope down to the bell-ringer.

The "demon theory of lightning" was about as successful as the "demon theory of disease." I.e., completely fucking useless. But that was all they had. From 1753 to 1786, lightning struck 386 French church towers, and lightning running down the bell ropes killed 103 French bell ringers. In 1786, the French government finally had to outlaw this piece of stupidity.

Ah, if only that were as bad as it got - many thousands of bell ringers across Europe killed except in those countries smart enough to outlaw this particular piece of religious insanity. But there was the problem of gunpowder for weapons and fireworks. Gunpowder factories frequently exploded killing hundreds of people in the area. Fireworks stored for celebrations frequently exploded killing hundreds of people in the area. Gunpowder stored for weapons frequently exploded killing hundreds of people in the area. So somebody got the bright idea of storing fireworks in churches, where they'd be protected by God.

I can hear you saying it: "You're shitting me! No way would they do that!" Yes, way. Even though churches were more likely to get hit by lightning than any other building. Even though the "demon theory of lightning" meant God couldn't protect a church from even minor demons hitting it with lightning. Even after all the dead bell-ringers (who were presumably pious) tugging their ropes for all they were worth. Even with the bells inscribed with Fulgura Frango failing to deflect the lightning flashes. Even with all the evidence that a church was the very last place you should store explosives, they were batfuck insane enough to do so. Religion means never having to admit to reality.

This reached a peak in the eighteenth century. In 1769 they stored 100 tons of gunpowder in the church of St Nazaire in Brescia. Lightning struck the tower and explosion destroyed one-sixth of the city and killed 3000 people. On and on it went. As late as 1856, the gunpowder stored in the vaults of the church of St Jean on the island of Rhodes exploded when lightning hit the church and 4000 were killed.

In 1753 Benjamin Franklin published a description of the lightning rod he'd invented in Poor Richard's Almanac (a publication, despite the name, written and printed by Franklin himself). The clergy went ballistic. Franklin was not a believer, he was a heretic. So they dubbed his invention the "heretical rod" and refused to desecrate their churches with it. They stuck with what they knew worked (except it didn't): prayer, supplication and bell-ringing (and, of course, after the storm burying the dead bell ringers).

Eventually, and at first only slowly, churches installed lightning rods and became far less likely to be hit by lightning. If lightning is still God's personal weapon, a simple metal rod is enough to deflect His wrath. If lightning is in the hands of petty demons, a metal rod can disrupt their plans even though God Himself could not stop them. If lightning is purely a natural event and not a weapon of God or petty demons then maybe there isn't a God after all. Of course, these are conclusions the church pretends don't exist and ignores because to discuss them would admit to inconsistencies in their theology. They just install lightning rods and try not to think of the implications.

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

Miller Time

Over at Editor and Publisher, the excellent Greg Mitchell asks, of Judy Miller, What, exactly, does a person have to do to get fired at The New York Times?.

Well, Greg, maybe this cartoon by the also excellent "Tom Tomorrow" will give you a clue.

It's going to take more than biting the heads off live bunnies on TV, declaring allegiance to Satan and nuking Iowa to get rid of this bitch.

Saturday, October 22, 2005

Quick, Jeff...

OK guys, I admit you journalists just caught me getting a hand job from Jeff Gannon.

Quick, Jeff, ask me a softball question. Oh, and could you finish me off quickly so I can put my dick away before they take more photographs?

She loves it...

Harriet loves it when I take her up the ass. The only problem is that barney gets jealous.

Friday, October 21, 2005

The Selection Process

Now that it looks like Rove is going to be indicted, the President has tasked me with finding a replacement to act as his "brain." Any of these candidates would be an improvement on his own brain because their heads are empty as opposed to having shit for brains. But I think I'll choose myself instead. If Cheney and Miers can do it, so can I.

Rapture or Rupture?

Today I read something and wondered just how far divorced from reality the Talebangelicals are. Which is a pretty astounding thought to have considering I already knew they are completely divorced from reality.

I read this Washington Post article (subscription required).

There's a new film being released based on the Left Behind novels by Tim "Raving Loon" LaHaye and Jerry B. "The tooth fairy wants me for a moonbeam" Jenkins. The books are all about Armageddon and the Second Coming of Jeebus and how the Talebangelicals will be "raptured" into Heaven while all the sane people (who don't believe in the Easter Bunny) are tormented and punished.

The thrust of the article was that Left Behind: World at War, which is the third film in the series, would not be shown in commercial theatres but only in "megachurches" and some smaller churches. Which makes sense: the megachurches are where the market for this insane drivel is while the people who frequent commercial theatres want to see entertainment rather than propaganda. The people who frequent commercial theatres are not averse to fantasy (such as, say, Spiderman) but they'd like to "suspend their sense of disbelief" without having to resort to heavy duty pharmaceuticals.

Anyway, I was struck by this quote from the Reverend Richard Edgar, pastor of the hilariously named "Reality Gospel Church" in Alexandria expects to draw 300 viewers (twice his regular membership). He says [emphasis is mine]:

We want to show Hollywood that there are enough people in the churches to support good, wholesome entertainment without all the blood and guts and sex and vile language.

Let's get this straight, the point of the Left Behind books and films is to highlight what will happen to the unbelievers who are left behind after the rapture. It's to make sure that the Talebangelical sheeple continue giving every spare penny they have to the megachurches so they'll be raptured into Heaven and won't be left behind. It's to convince any backsliders that being left behind is not a good idea. And it's to make the Talebangelical sheeple feel fucking smug that they'll be looking down from Heaven watching all the sinners suffer for years before the sinners are finally cast down into Hell to burn for eternity.

So what's involved for us sinners? The exact details depend upon the brand of Talabangelicalism, but here's just the start of what happens according to Revelations.

  1. The "Four Horsemen" are unleashed: Plague, War, Famine and Death. And they spend their time killing people in horrible ways.

  2. There are major earthquakes, killing yet more people.

  3. At this point the "saved" are transported bodily into Heaven. According to the Talebangelicals, they leave their clothing behind as they are magically yanked upwards, so they are all naked.

  4. Hail and fire mingled with blood are cast upon the earth. One-third of all trees are destroyed; all grass is burned. And it's probably not healthy if you get a big blob of fire fall on you.

  5. A great mountain burning with fire is cast into the sea. One-third of the sea becomes blood; one-third of the creatures of the sea die; one-third of the ships are destroyed (presumably killing all those on board).

  6. A star called Wormwood falls from the heavens and poisons one-third of the rivers and fountains. One-third of the waters become as wormwood and many people die of the poison.

  7. And then it starts to get really bad... If you want to know what happens next you can look it up for yourself, but I'm sure you get the general gist from this partial list.

Oh, and let's not forget that some of those who are raptured bodily into Heaven without warning will be merrily driving along a busy freeway at high speed. So expect lots of car crashes, at least in the shit-for-brains states where people are most likely to fall for this crap.

So, to show all that happens to those who are left behind, and to those who are raptured, involves a fuckload of blood falling from the skies or the seas being converted to the stuff; a shitload of violent death (referred to in the movie industry as "blood and guts") and nudity (OK, nudity isn't sex per se but the Talebangelicals refer to movies which show nudity without any sweaty, straining bodies striving for orgasm, as "sex").

So this series of movies, when complete, will necessarily show blood and guts and what the Talebangelicals would describe as sex in abundance. In fact those are the main feature of the plotline. They are essential. Let us again read what Reverend Shit-for-Brains has to say of the movies:

We want to show Hollywood that there are enough people in the churches to support good, wholesome entertainment without all the blood and guts and sex and vile language.

How out of touch with reality can you get? To believe in this crap means you're bugfuck insane. But to then say that a series of films that revolve around blood and guts and sex are wholesome because they don't involve blood and guts and sex transcends insanity. It's one thing to believe in the invisible magic easter bunny without any supporting evidence; it's a whole new level of batshit insanity to read a book (or watch a film) and say it doesn't contain any of the material that is the essential plotline.

Centuries ago, mathematicians thought there was only one sort of infinity. Georg Cantor upset that applecart by showing that there were different cardinalities of infinity. He proved that the number of integers ("counting numbers") is infinite and of cardinality א0 (Aleph-0). He also proved that the set of even numbers is also of cardinality א0 (i.e., the same size as both even and odd numbers put together. That may seem, to you, as batshit insane as believing in the "rapture" but at least there is mathematical proof so simple that you can probably follow it (even though you'll end up wondering what the trick is). He also proved that rational numbers (1/2, 2/3, 4/3,...) are of the same cardinality yet again: no bigger and no smaller than even numbers. He then proved that real numbers (ones which potentially require an infinite number of decimal places to describe) are of a higher cardinality: א1. There really are more real numbers than integers. If you think I'm making all this up, here's a primer on the subject (it might be a good idea to have some aspirin to hand for the inevitable headache).

Aleph is the first letter of the Hebrew alphabet and Tav is the last. When the Tanakh was translated into the Greek Septuagint (which later became the basis for the Old Testament) the phrase "I am the Aleph and the Tav" (meaning "I am the beginning and the end") became "I am the Alpha and the Omega". Since the Talebangelicals look forward to the end times, I could use either Tav or Omega to represent the cardinality of their insanity. To follow Cantor's lead, I'll go with Tav.

So if we can describe LaHaye and Jenkins' brand of bugfuck insanity as cardinality as ת0 then I think we can justifiably assign Reverend "Crazier than a shithouse rat on crystal meth" Edgar a cardinality of insanity ת1. I have no doubt that even higher cardinalities of insanity exist amongst the Talebangelicals but I'd expect those who suffer from them to spend most of their day rolling around the floor "speaking in tongues" while being treated as very holy people by those of lower cardinalities.

This ordinarily wouldn't bother me, because I think people should be allowed to fuck up their own life any way they want. If they want to zonk out on drugs, or believe in invisible tooth fairies then that's their problem. The trouble is that these lunatics exert a powerful influence upon the Bush administration. Why preserve the environment when the rapture is coming any day now? War is good because it's a sign the rapture is near. It's wonderful that Bush is an evil fuck because he must be the Antichrist and the rapture will be here any day now.

[Sigh. I followed the HTML and Unicode standards to ensure that the Alephs and Tavs were followed by the subscript numerals rather than being preceded by them. Worked great with two browsers I tried on a test file (without the tweaks I did one of my browsers got it wrong) but still screwed up in the Blogspot editor preview. I now see it's wrong when published too. Must be something in the Blogspot style sheets that's doing it. Maybe it will look OK on your browser (I don't have Internet Exploder), maybe not. I tried my best.]

Thursday, October 20, 2005

The Exit Strategy for Plamegate

More and more people are reporting that Fitzgerald has his eye on Cheney and maybe even Bush as well. I predicted that here but it's nice to get confirmation. Some are predicting that Cheney won't be indicted but will be named as an "unindicted co-conspiritor" but even that might force him to resign.

I find it difficult to believe Bush would let Rove be imprisoned. Bush couldn't function without Rove, for starters. But more important is what Rove knows. Has Rove already been "flipped" to the point of incriminating Bush? Is the recent news that Bush apparently lied to Fitzgerald about knowing Rove was involved enough for an indictment of obstructing justice? I know Bush wasn't under oath at time but that, apparently, is no protection. Even if Rove hasn't incriminated Bush yet, might he be inclined to see if he can cut a deal after a few months in prison? I'm willing to bet that Rove has a lot more he could reveal about Bush and Cheney than just an involvement in Plamegate.

So what's Bush's exit strategy? Well,a "plane crash," a "lone gunman," and an "accidental overdose of sleeping pills" have been employed in the past. But Rove, Libby, and all the others dying within days of each other would be rather suspicious. And since Fitzgerald will already have sworn depositions and other evidence, it wouldn't do much good. It might protect against Rove trying to cut short a prison stay by coming up with juicy stuff unrelated to Plamegate but he might already have done that anyway. A few covert assassinations might prevent others coming forward about other matters but there could already be enough from Plamegate to do Bush major damage.

He could try the "Nixon" gambit of firing Fitzgerald before the indictments are drawn up. Nixon's Attorney General resigned rather than carry out that order; so did the AG's number two. Nixon eventually got his way, but the truth came out anyway. There is reason to believe that Fitzgerald has taken precautions to make this tactic ineffective. Fitzgerald would have explained to the grand jury that they have a legal and constitutional right to pursue whatever they wish, despite the direction the prosecutor may wish to lead them (if they do their own thing they are termed a "runaway" grand jury). So even if Fitzgerald gets fired and replaced by a prosecutor who is in Bush's pocket, the grand jury will carry on with their investigation and present bills of indictment.

He could try the "Reagan" strategy of handing out pardons to everyone convicted. Reagan only got away with that because he was a popular president and was losing his marbles. The Republicans persuaded the Democrats not to take things any further (and so veep George HW Bush escaped without his part in Iran-Contra and all the other nasty stuff coming out) and criminals like Poindexter and (ironically) Libby got away with only short terms in prison before the pardons were issued. But pardons could prove to be too late if some of them have already cut deals and given incriminating testimony.

He could try the "George HW Bush" strategy of giving everyone pre-emptive pardons for any criminal act, past or present, committed by members of his administration. God knows how Bush was allowed to get away with that, but he did. Surely it only makes sense to pardon somebody after imprisonment, or at least after conviction. It was obviously a way of stopping all his nasty secrets coming out at the trials, and for that very reason his pardons should have been overturned by the Supreme Court as obstruction of justice. This sounds like Dubya's exit strategy and is probably why he is so eager to get his adoring puppy Harriet on the SCOTUS.

Then again, his popularity is going downhill fast. Ninety Senators, including many Republicans, voted to insert a measure into the military spending bill that prohibited torture. Some of them no doubt did so cynically knowing that the House is likely to remove the measure and that if, by some miracle, the measure survives then Bush will veto it and the House is unlikely to get the two-thirds majority needed to over-ride the veto. You might even suspect that Bush told them they could vote for the amendment so they can look good to their constituents because the House will kill it. But that's unlikely: Bush looks out for number one and threatening to veto a military spending bill during a time of war because he wants to be able to continue torturing people made him look very bad. I doubt Rove would have sanctioned such a strategy (but then he's been a little preoccupied lately). So it looks like the Senate Republicans, at least, increasingly see Bush and his disastrous policies and scandals as a threat to their re-election.

So if Bush handed out pre-emptive pardons he might just face impeachment. It's a very slender chance, I admit, but it's just possible. The mood of the country is such that those who voted against impeachment would have a hard time getting re-elected. The mainstream media is also speaking out against Bush these days (a sign that they now feel less threatened by Bush and less sure that he has any power to give them any rewards like allowing more mergers). There's also the "feeding frenzy" factor at work: any mainstream media outlet that doesn't jump on a story like that will lose market share to the ones that do.

Once impeached, Bush could then face indictment on whatever charges Fitzgerald turns up. Impeachment only removes him from office and bars him from ever holding public office again. But the Constitution makes it quite plain that impeachment would not protect him from any criminal charges arising from the same issues. There is no "double jeopardy" get-out. So Bush handing out pre-emptive pardons might not get him off the hook. If he is impeached for protecting people with pre-emptive pardons then he is certainly also guilty of obstructing justice even if Fitzgerald has nothing else on him.

Could Bush get around this by giving himself a pre-emptive pardon too? There is nothing explicitly in the Constitution to prevent it. But even then he could still be impeached for doing so (and the mood against him might be a lot stronger if he tried a trick like that). And after that he might face charges of obstruction of justice for pre-emptively pardoning himself. Of course he'd appeal all the way up to the Supreme Court, and he's trying to stack it with his buddies. But would even Clarence Thomas put the shreds of his reputation on the line to protect Bush? Would puppy-dog Miers (if she's appointed, and if the appointment happens prior to the appeal) recuse herself? Even if she did not, could she be guaranteed to stick by Bush if things looked really serious? Once she's on the Court she doesn't have to pay back any favours, and she'd have her own reputation to think about. Plus, even Supreme Court justices can be impeached.

He could, of course, resign and hope nobody is vindictive enough to pursue matters. But he's not the sort of man who is likely do that (stay the course). But even if he did there's no guarantee it would stop there. It did with Nixon, despite his unpopularity. It did with Reagan, because of his popularity and dementia. It might work again, because the Democrats seem to lack balls. But what if they realized that with the DeLay scandal, the Frist Scandal, and whatever comes out of Plamegate that going after Bush would be supported by the majority of the US, might turn up even further scandals, and probably result in the Democrats taking one or both Houses? They're probably too wimpy to try, but...

But maybe resignation is an option if he can guarantee that whoever takes over will grant him a pardon. But he cannot be sure who that will be. If Bush is forced to resign then Cheney will have gone too. So might several others in his cabinet. Hastert may yet face corruption charges over taking bribes from Turkey. Whoever is left after all this settles will probably not be close enough to Bush to feel much loyalty. Certainly not close enough to give him a pardon in the face of the majority of the country thinking (correctly) that Bush has been a n absolute disaster.

So how about another "terrorist attack"? It worked before. Boosted his popularity no end. But that was before Hurricane Katrina showed that rather than being the strong defender he claimed to be, he was spectacularly inept at protecting the country. Another "terrorist attack" would not be seen as his finest hour but as yet more incompetence.

Ah, but he now has legislation that would let him declare martial law. General Tommy Franks stated his opinion that if there were another "terrorist attack" all civil liberties would be suspended and there would be martial law. So that's a possibility. Could he gain anything else that way? You betcha!

Imagine a suitcase nuke detonated in Washington. Imagine that the circle of total destruction just happened to include where the grand jury meets, killing them all and destroying all their evidence. Of course it would be pretty damned obvious that it (like 9-11) was an inside job and what its purpose was. Everyone in the rest of the world would know it and say so. But the US would be under martial law and anybody who spoke out would find themselves "disappeared" to Gitmo.

Would Bush try such a thing? He's cornered and desperate and has nothing to lose and everything to gain. Is he evil enough to do it? He lied the US into a war of conquest for oil. Is he bright enough to think of it? Probably not. Rove is, but he may already have been "flipped." Cheney is, and it seems there is more evidence against Cheney than against Bush.

But maybe they both think that with pre-emptive pardons, Congress (currently) in their pockets (most of the time) and Harriet on the Scotus they won't need to do that. Their window of opportunity is closing fast. Fitzgerald might keep things going until the very last day or he might present indictments tomorrow. If they were going to do it they probably already would have because speculation that Fitzgerald was going to issue indictments very soon has been around for the past week.

None of the exit strategies looks good. Pre-emptive pardons is probably the way he'll go, along with hoping that Congress won't impeach him. They probably won't. But without Tom "Hammer" DeLay there to push people around, that's not guaranteed.

Monday, October 17, 2005

The Big Lie

Adolph Hitler, in Mein Kampf wrote that Germany lost WW I due to a propaganda technique used by Jews which consisted of telling a lie so "colossal" that no one would believe anyone "could have the impudence to distort the truth so infamously." Goebbels is rumoured to have later accused the British of using the same technique. More details here The rest of the world credits Hitler's Nazi regime with using the "big lie" in its propaganda.

The Bush regime is certainly using the "big lie" gambit. But it's also using the "little lie, frequently" gambit. There is not a day goes by when the Bush regime doesn't lie about something no matter how big or how small. So it's interesting to figure out why they do it.

The first reason is strategy. They're not going to sell a "Let's give my cronies in the energy industry freedom to pollute the air so they can make bigger profits" bill but they can sell a "Clean Skies Initiative." If they told the truth about what they wanted to achieve they'd be strung up from lampposts. If they lie about it the sheeple will let them do it.

The second reason is tactics. They get caught out in one of their lies so lie about it some more. "So Saddam didn't have WMDs? But he had plans to create projects to explore the possibility of WMD-related program activities." Then that lie gets exposed. "Oh, no vague thoughts of intentions of the possibility of perhaps creating WMD-related program activities? But he was an evil person with torture rooms that we closed down (actually we re-opened them and run them under our management now)." Etc. As the Scots poet put it: "Oh what a tangled web we weave, when first we practice to deceive." Once you tell a lie then you have to tell further lies when the first lie is exposed as a lie.

The third reason is because they can. These people are psychopaths and they get their rocks of by hurting people. Part of their pleasure is in deceiving people long enough for that deceit to get them what they want then laughing like sick fucks when the sheeple realize they've been lied to once again.

But perhaps there is another strategic reason. There are so fucking many lies it's impossible to keep track of them. The daily news cycle means that by the time you've gathered the proof of a lie it is considered "old news" and your proof is ignored. Even worse, there are so fucking many lies that people like you and me get burned out. There is just too much evil. There are just too many lies. We are overwhelmed by it all. 9-11 should have been enough to have Bush and co impeached and imprisoned for their part in it. But while we were looking at that we got distracted by other serious crimes and lies. We're forever playing "catch up" and losing.

Had we concentrated all our efforts on 9-11 then then this bunch would be in jail. Had we concentrated all our efforts on the lies that led to the Iraq war then this bunch would be in jail. Had we concentrated all our efforts on "Plamegate" then this bunch would be in jail. Etc. But we eagerly concentrate our efforts on the latest atrocity and the latest lies and so we lose.

The "lots of little lies" technique is, unfortunately, an improvement over the "big lie." Even though fewer people believe the little lies, they are continually chasing a moving target.

Friday, October 14, 2005

One of the Founding Fathers' Mistakes

The founding fathers of the US did the best they could. They analysed the governance of countries around the planet and throughout history looking for what they did wrong and how to prevent it happening in the US. The Constitution was a compromise between conflicting viewpoints and it was always intended that it would be overhauled on a frequent basis to correct any problems before they got out of hand.

The founding fathers did not anticipate the inertia in keeping the Constitution unaltered in the face of flaws. They did manage to add the Bill of Rights but after that major amendments were few and far between. But that was a minor mistake.

The founding fathers thought that men of good faith would, in general, rise to positions of power because the people would take an interest in ascertaining the true nature of candidates. That was true back in those days when the citizenry were well-informed and sought to investigate all sides of every issue. These days when people get their opinions force-fed to them by the likes of Limbaugh and O'Reilly, the scum easily floats to the top. That was a bigger mistake but the founding fathers can be forgiven for not predicting the invention of radio and television and how much those inventions would turn the citizenry into sheeple.

Some have claimed that the UK parliamentary system, where the Prime Minister (chief executive) is a Member of Parliament (legislator in the lower house) makes him more vulnerable to his actions being questioned. It is certainly true that the worst abuses of power by Thatcher, Major and Blair occurred when they twisted the rules to allow them to act "presidentially." And yet there is something to be said for the separation of powers.

In any case, the founding fathers didn't have much choice. The geographical extent of just the original thirteen states and the modes of transport available at the time meant they had to have a chief executive separate from Congress. In order to truly represent the views of his constituents, a Representative has to spend time with them, yet to make laws he has to meet in Congress. Given the distances and modes of transport it was impracticable, back then, for Congress to meet three or four days a week and return to their constituency for the rest of the week. The founding fathers anticipated that Congress would meet once or twice a year.

That wasn't a problem because technological and cultural change occurred at a much slower pace back, then so new legislation at the Federal level was not as frequently required (especially as the Federal Government exerted less influence back then). What was a problem was that somebody was needed to ensure that the legislation that Congress passed was executed. Even worse, if the US were to be attacked it would be no good saying "Sorry, Congress isn't due to meet again for another four months so could you postpone your attack until then so they have a chance to authorize defensive measures?" so you needed an executive who was also Commander in Chief in times of war.

In short, the founding fathers needed a President because of transport limitations of the time. Were they to be recalled from their graves to redraft the Constitution they might, seeing fast cars and even faster aircraft, reach a different conclusion. So that's not a mistake either.

The founding fathers were adamant that there should be no king. And that is the foundation of where they made a big mistake, although they didn't have the knowledge to realize that they had.

A king who is an absolute monarch without restraint is a bad idea (I hope that is so obvious I don't have to explain why). A king with life tenure, even if he has the restricted powers of the US president is a bad idea: there is no mechanism to say "OK, George HW Bush, you screwed up big time so we won't re-elect you." Kingship through imprimogeniture (it passes to the first-born) is also a bad idea: George HW Bush was a bad president but Dubya is far, far worse.

So why was it a bad idea to dispense with kings entirely? Because there is no separation between the head of state (figurehead) and the chief of state (chief executive). The Queen of England is supposedly merely a figurehead (legally she has almost no remaining powers that she could exert without causing a constitutional crisis that would lead to her downfall; practically, as the world's richest woman she has far more indirect power than most people suspect) and serves as a psychological counter-balance to the Prime Minister. Prime Minister Blair is a lying, evil, corrupt scumbag? That's OK because at least we have the Queen to look up to. King George is a syphilitic lunatic? That's OK because the Prime Minister makes sure George can't do much harm.

The US President combines head of state (ceremonial figurehead) and chief of state (chief executive officer) in one person. And that's the big problem. Americans venerate the flag. Americans venerate mom and apple pie. Americans venerate the President because he's head of state. That makes it very difficult for them to acknowledge when the President, as chief of state, fucks up big time. "You can't criticise him because he's [tones of awe and reverance] The President."

Americans therefore find it difficult to distinguish between the office of President and the officeholder. The office of President is entitled to certain protocols and courtesies, and those are conferred upon the officeholder. Other than the courtesies due to the office itself, the officeholder must earn respect. I have had great difficulty convincing some people of that. They insist that people should respect the President merely because he is the President and that he is therefore above criticism. Respect must be earned.

The office of President has the courtesy that its holder is addressed as "Mr President" but anything beyond that official courtesy must be earned. You should always say something to the President like "Mr President, why did you invade Iraq?" and not like "Oi, you evil fucking scumbag, why did you invade Iraq?" because the protocols due to the office require that mode of addres. However, it is permissible to say "Mr President, you evil fucking scumbag, why did you invade Iraq?" if, indeed, the President is an evil fucking scumbag.

To quote from part of an article Teddy Roosevelt wrote for the Kansas City Star during WW I:

The President is merely the most important among a large number of public servants. He should be supported or opposed exactly to the degree which is warranted by his good conduct or bad conduct, his efficiency or inefficiency in rendering loyal, able, and disinterested service to the Nation as a whole. Therefore it is absolutely necessary that there should be full liberty to tell the truth about his acts, and this means that it is exactly necessary to blame him when he does wrong as to praise him when he does right. Any other attitude in an American citizen is both base and servile. To announce that there must be no criticism of the President, or that we are to stand by the President, right or wrong, is not only unpatriotic and servile, but is morally treasonable to the American public. Nothing but the truth should be spoken about him or any one else. But it is even more important to tell the truth, pleasant or unpleasant, about him than about any one else.

Unfortunately, because the President is figurehead as well as chief executive, many Americans find it nearly impossible to criticise him. That has been true of all US Presidents, not just this one (who is the worst the US has ever had). Until recently, when his failures became apparent to all and his poll numbers plummeted, a newspaper that criticised Dubya might as well have said that the US flag is ugly, apple pie tastes bad, and the American dream is a nightmare (and then waited for some shit-for-brains Dubya supporter to torch their offices).

Thursday, October 13, 2005

Sometimes I get it wrong

For those few people hanging on my every word when I make predictions about future events based upon my deductions of past events, you fools! :) Sometimes I get it wrong. I don't have a crystal ball. I'm just taking known facts and using logic to make deductions. Sometimes I get my facts wrong. Sometimes my logic is wrong. And sometimes my deductions are wrong because I don't have all the facts.

As an example, many moons ago I had an article published by Democratic Underground in which I predicted that Ashcroft recusing himself from the Plame case meant that there would be no indictments at all. And now I'm predicting that Fitzgerald is likely to indict Cheney and/or Bush. Obviously I was wrong on at least one of those predictions.

In my defense, in the Democratic Underground article I assumed (but did not explicitly state that assumption) that the Bush Family Evil Empire would maintain its chokehold on all legal processes. At the time it seemed impossible that they would lose their grip and that cracks would appear in the fa├žade. No matter how honest and persistent Fitzgerald was, he wouldn't be able to get anything they didn't want him to have.

So you can laugh at me, here's a rough outline of what I wrote back then:

Ashcroft was deeply unpopular and mocked. He lost a senate re-election race to a dead man! Whatever his plans for the future, he needed something to make him look good.

The Bush administration were going to out the real culprit (fat chance); or they were going to put up some sacrificial minion; or nobody would ever be indicted. I tried to predict which of those three options was most likely given Ashcroft's recusal.

If a real culprit or sacrificial minion were indicted, Ashcroft would benefit by not recusing himself. He could then say "You thought I was partisan and incapable of acting objectively but we have indicted the responsible party. Now anoint me with some more Crisco and bow down before me."

If the plan was that nobody would be indicted then Ashcroft would have to protect himself by recusing himself. He could then say "We couldn't find the culprit but you can't blame me for that because I recused myself."

Therefore Ashcroft's refusal indicated there would be no indictments.

I still stand by that logic. It's just that neither I, nor the Bush Family Evil Empire thought that they'd lose control. Ashcroft's recusal was because the Busheviks intended that there would be no indictments. But they, like I, cannot predict the future perfectly. They, like I, thought they had complete control.

There are times when I am very happy that my deductions turn out to be wrong. OK, I'm counting my burning chickens before they cross the bridge here, but I think that Fitzgerald will be the death of the fascist regime that has taken over the US.

Wednesday, October 12, 2005

You're late, guys

According to this post over at the Huffington Post, the Wall Street Journal and Bloomberg are both working on stories that point to Dick "Crashcart" Cheney as being the next target of Fitzgerald's investigation.

You're late, guys. I figured it out five days ago and posted my reasoning here. And you're also missing something.

Libby has cut a deal to grass up Rove. That ought to be damned obvious because only a couple of days after Libby begged Miller to testify, Rove got called for a fourth time with no guarantees that his testimony would not lead to indictment. Miller's testimony would be, without a deal, damaging to Libby and that's why she went to jail and refused to believe his waiver had been given freely. But Libby cut a deal, and although Miller's testimony will implicate Libby further it will also provide corroboration for other testimony (Libby's or somebody else's) against Rove. Libby will get off on minor charges (despite whatever Miller has to say) or even gain total immunity in return for grassing up Rove. That's why he begged Miller to testify and why she agreed to.

But is Rove the end of it or will Fitzgerald use the same tactics to persuade Rove to let him fry the biggest fish of all? With testimony from Libby and Miller, Fitzgerald already has enough to indict Rove. So the only reason for calling Rove to testify yet again is to use the same tactics upon him. Fitzgerald must already have testimony implicating Bush and/or Cheney and needs Rove's corroboration to go after them. So Rove will be faced with the choice between lesser charges (or even immunity) or dropping Bush and/or Cheney in the shit.

Which is pretty much what I said in my earlier article five days ago. But here's something that didn't occur to me back then. Libby is Cheney's gopher. Rove is Bush's brain. If Rove has been called in to turn State's Evidence then it's almost certain Bush is a target. But the fact that Libby has spilled his guts means that if Cheney was even indirectly involved (and I'm damned sure he was in the thick of it) then Cheney faces the perp walk too.

I'm losing track of who might end up as President. Bush and Cheney are going to do the perp walk. Sibel Edmonds has stated that Hastert (next in line) took bribes from Turkey to drop a motion against Turkey's ethnic cleansing. Frist is facing Martha Stuart land. DeLay is in such deep shit there is no chance of him ever surfacing again (that is something that makes even an atheist like me wonder if there might be a God after all). If Bush and Cheney go down then there will likely be many other secrets come out that will take out most of the others in the line of succession. Who's left? I think that after all the others have been jailed, the guy who cleans the downstairs toilets in the Senate is next in line and might be free of corruption and treason (but he pongs a bit).

Tuesday, October 11, 2005


Religions and creeds vie with each other to come up with the stupidest garbage possible. Of them all though, one of the daftest has to be Calvinism.

One of my favourite science fiction authors, Randall Garret, once gave the following quotation (probably invented, since I cannot find any reference to it on google) at the start of one of his stories:

You can and you can't

You will and you won't

You'll be damned if you do

You'll be damned if you don't

Alonzo Todd, Definition of Calvinism

That was from memory of a story I last read over a decade ago, so I may have misquoted slightly.

Calvinism is a dour, sour, religion. No form of enjoyment is allowed. You are not allowed to have pleasure, especially on Sundays. The Calvinist God does not want you to enjoy yourself. As a Calvinist you live a life without joy or pleasure so you might go to Heaven. Except that, according to Calvinism, what you do makes absolutely no difference at all upon whether or not you go to Heaven? As the TV comedy Soap used to say in its intro: "Confused? You will be."

The Calvinist doctrine consists of five fundamental principles which are referred to by Calvinists by the acronym "TULIP":

Total Depravity
This is based upon, but far worse than the doctrine of "Original Sin." The doctrine of "Original Sin" states that we are all born with a negative spiritual bank balance because our remote ancestors Adam and Eve were sinful. The only way you can wipe out that sin is to "find Jeebus." This is like you being imprisoned because your dead grandfather didn't pay a parking fine unless you tell your local sherriff that he is a wonderful guy: purely evil. But Calvinism takes it one step further.

Calvinism says that although God/Jesus/Holy Ghost want you to find salvation through Jeebus, you are so inherently evil that you cannot. The Calvinist Pink said:

As a creature the natural man is responsible to love, obey and serve God; as a sinner he is responsible to repent and believe the Gospel. But at the outset we are confronted with the fact that the natural man is unable to love and serve God, and that as a sinner, of himself, cannot repent and believe.

Sovereignty of God, page 149

So whereas most creeds of Christianity give you a way of escaping "Original Sin," Calvinism says there is no escape. Not unless God decides that, as a sinner, you will be permitted to find salvation through Jesus.

Unconditional Election
At the start of time, God knew everything that would happen throughout time and elected (chose) certain people to go to Heaven and others to go to Hell. God saw it all in advance.

Consider that carefully. Whatever you do, even though you think you have free will (and perhaps you do) God already knows what you are going to do. God has already decided, based upon advanced knowledge of acts you have not yet performed, whether you go to Heaven or to Hell.

Limited Atonement
Christ died only for certain sins for certain people. This crap about "Christ died for your sins" is just that: crap. If you are one of the lucky few then Christ's death atoned for both your "Original Sin" and whatever other sins you may have committed. If you are one of the unlucky many then despite you having committed fewer, less serious, sins than the lucky few, Christ did not die for your sins. Get over it. Move on.

Irrestistable Grace
If you're chosen to be one of the saved, you can't fight it. If God chose you to be saved then you can go around raping and killing virgins and you'll still be saved. If God chose Hitler then Hitler is saved despite his depravities. If God chose Stalin then Stalin is saved despite his deprativities. If God chose Pol Pot, then Pol Pot is saved despite his depravities. If God chose George Wanker Bush, then George Wanker Bush is saved despite his depravities.

You may think that such evil people would not be chosen by God. But you have forgotten the "T" of "TULIP." You are a sinner and you cannot obtain salvation merely through embracing Jeebus. God has to decree that your embracing Jeebus will result in your salvation. No matter what you do, the decision is God's. And, since you start out as a sinner and your embracing Jeebus does not change you from being a sinner, God rewards some sinners and punishes other sinners. Only God knows which sinners get saved.

Perseverance of Saints
If you're one of the lucky few, chosen by God at the start of time to be saved, then you are a saint. And as such your sainthood perseveres, despite whatever you may do that afterwards that is evil. This is essentially the same as the "I" in "TULIP." After God, at the beginning of time, chose you (for whatever reason) then it's inescapable.

OK, so let's think this through carefully. You think you have free will (and perhaps you do) but God already knows what you chose to do throughout your life. And on the basis of those choices God decided whether you go to Hell or Heaven. Even if you have free will, God know what your free will caused you to decide to do.

OK, so you have two choices. You can live the sour, dour, unpleasant life of a Calvinist or you can enjoy yourself. God already knows which choice you made and whichever choice you made your fate is sealed. So you might decide to become a Calvinist and still end up in Hell: a mortal life of punishment followed by an afterlife of punishment. Or you could decide to do a "John Belushi"and end up in Hell not because you were a bad person but because God decided so at the start of time, but at least you got to enjoy yourself in this life. Or, if you are lucky then you live a sour, dour, unjoyful, unpleasurable life as a Calvinist and are lucky enough to end up as one of the "elect" that go to Heaven (not because you became a Calvinist or because you forewent pleasure, but because God had already long since decided that you would go to Heaven). Or, if you are really lucky you might decide to do the "Belushi" thang and live life to the full and God has already decided you go to Heaven so it's a mortal life of pleasure followed by an afterlife of pleasure.

Given that God already knows the choices you'll make, given that God has already decided what to do with you, do you use your free will to choose a fucking unhappy Calvinist life or do you go and party? I shall pour myself another glass of wine and surf for some porn while you think about that. God has (according to the Calvinists) long since made his choice what to do with me in the afterlife irrespective of what I do in this life. So I'm going to fucking enjoy myself in this life. If I take the Calvinist creed as being true then there is no other sensible choice I can make.

Ummm, is any other religion so self-contradictory and so self-defeating as Calvinism?

Tom DeLay - the Buddhist Remix

[Another item recycled from one of my other blogs]

The young child of a Buddhist family was trying to understand the Buddhist concepts of death and reincarnation. He asked his father what happened when he died. His father explained that if he had followed the Buddhist path and been a good person then he would be rewarded with Nirvana but if he had been a bad person he would be reincarnated as a rat because his soul needed to learn more.

The child thought a while and then asked his father what happened if he died as a rat. His father explained that if, as a rat, he had followed the Buddhist path and been a good rat then he would be rewarded by being reincarnated as a human but if he had been a bad rat he would be reincarnated as a cockroach because his soul needed to learn a lot more.

The child thought yet again and then asked his father what happened if he died as a cockroach. His father explained that if, as a cockroach, he had followed the Buddhist path and been a good cockroach then he would be rewarded by being reincarnated as a rat but if he had been a bad cockroach he would be reincarnated as Tom DeLay.

The child pondered heavily for a long time and then said to his father "Fuck it, if I screw up as a cockroach can I go straight to Hell? That's a lesser punishment than being Tom DeLay." His father smiled, knowing that his child was on the path to enlightenment.

Tom DeLay

[Recycled from one of my other blogs]

About ten years ago I was in Edinburgh. It was raining heavily. There was a high wind. I had to tilt my umbrella at an angle to stop the rain being blown at me. I turned a corner and the wind was blowing straight at me, so I lowered my umbrella in front of me to keep off the rain, thereby restricting my forward vision.

A few steps later, I trod on something unknown (because I couldn't see what was in front of me). From the feel under my foot, I thought it was a woman's handbag (that's "purse" if you're in the US) containing pens, cosmetics, a purse (that's "pocketbook" if you're in the US) and other objects. It had a squishy feel overall but with solid objects within. I looked down to see what I had stepped on, expecting at any moment to have to apologize abjectly to the woman in front of me for stepping on the handbag (that's still "purse" if you're in the US) that she had just dropped and have to offer to pay for all the stuff I had broken by stepping on it.

When I looked down I saw the biggest turd I had ever seen. Not only that, it was fluorescent orange. It must have come from a dog since there are no larger animals wandering the pavements (that's "sidewalks" if you're in the US) of Edinburgh, so the dog must have been a labrador that had been constipated for several weeks. It was a gigantic turd, and full of undigested objects of different consistencies (hence my belief that I had detected pens under my foot). And it stank to high heaven. It was rancid. The worst turd I had ever smelled (and my own turds can often beat the Guinness Book of Records for stench).

So I walked my way to the bus station scraping my shoe at every opportunity. Since there was heavy rain, the water aided to remove this turd. However, as well as being fluorescent orange and disgustingly smelly, it also had the adhesive powers of superglue. So when I got on the bus (out of the wind that had kept most of the stench from my shoe away from my nose) I was aware of an evil smell - as were those around me who moved to seats well away from me. When I got home I had to scrub the shoe repeatedly under running water to remove the remaining evil supergluey crap and then throw the brush away because it was forever contaminated.

It is only now since pResident George Wanker Bush stole power and I started following US politics that I realize that I had stepped in some Tom DeLay (i.e., a really evil shit).

Sunday, October 09, 2005

Why the Abrahamic Gods are Inherently Evil

Some of you may be wondering why I attack religion so much. In part it is because the Talabangelicals facilitated Bush's rise to power. In part it is because the insane theology of the shadowy figures pulling the strings of those who pull Bush's strings makes the Talebangelicals look lucid, rational and moral. In part it's because I can and it's so easy to do it's a way for me to relax.

The Abrahamic religions are those derived from Abraham of what the Christians refer to as the Old Testament. The Abrahamic Gods are JHVH (also rendered as "Jahveh" and "Jehovah"), the Christian God/Jesus/Holy Ghost who are different yet the same (holy multiple personality disorder, Batman!), and Allah. And it can be proven, from simple facts and logical deduction that if one of those Gods exists as one of those religions describes Him then He is evil. This also applies to any non-Abrahamic monotheistic God who promises an eternal afterlife of bliss to his believers.

We are all born atheists (without religious faith). Religious faith is only acquired when we are old enough to hear and comprehend speech, and it is a process that takes several years. The religion one acquires is almost always that of one's parents to the point where it could be mistakenly perceived as being inherited. In fact religion isn't inherited but is acquired more in the manner of an infection. It is an infection that, like athlete's foot, most people cannot throw off by themselves. It is an infection that blocks different strains of the same infection (so if you are infected with Catholicism you won't be infected with Protestantism or Islam).

Some people do change their religion, but it is rare. A very small fraction lose their faith in one religion and switch to another (or to atheism). A very small fraction convert so they can marry somebody of a different religion. Occasionally a new religion arises (such as Mormonism) or a new religion splits off from an older religion (such as Protestantism from Catholicsm). But for the vast majority of people the religion they have is the religion their parents had. It's not a coincidence: parents indoctrinate their children with religion.

Most people do not wait until they are adults to choose a religion. Richard Dawkins suggested that if they did they might make a list of scores for best hymns, most comfortable pews, etc. Dawkins was being facetiously sarcastic to drive home a point. If one were to choose a religion as an adult one might assign scores based on how likely it was to be true, how moral it was, etc. But the vast majority do not, they follow the same religion as their parents almost as if they inherited it. This is important: in the vast majority of cases a person's religion is not a matter of choice but an accident of birth.

And there are so many Abrahamic religions. There are dozens of flavours of Judaism, dozens of flavours of Islam and thousands of flavours of Christianity. Each of those flavours says that it, and only it is the correct way to worship JHVH/God/Allah and that followers of the other flavours will burn in Hell for eternity for worshipping JHVH/God/Allah the wrong way. By their own arguments, no more than one of them can be the correct way to worship JHVJ/God/Allah. Why do I say "no more than one"? Because it's entirely possible that none of them are right.

However, let's assume that one of them is right. If you have a religion, then it just happens to be your flavour of your religion (WUnited Reformed Universal Seventh Day Adventist Baptists for JesusW, say, rather than the rival "Universal Reformed United Seventh Day Adventist Baptists for JesusW who differ on the important point of whether the left knee or right knee should be the first to touch the hassock when kneeling to pray) that is right. Congratulations! Of the many thousands of flavours of Christianity, yours just happens to be the right one. You've won the lottery, purely by accident.

I can hear the indignation in your voice as you say "It's not a matter of luck, I know my religion is the right one." So let me ask you how you know that.

You'll tell me that you have a Holy Book, the Babble Bible, which is the inerrant word of God. And I'll point out that Judaism has its holy scriptures, the Torah and the Talmud, and Islam has its holy scripture, the Qur'an.

You'll tell me that your priests tell you that the Bible is true, and they are holy men. And I'll point out that the Rabbis say the same of the Torah and Talmud, and the Mullahs say the same of the Qur'an.

You'll tell me that your priests must be right because God has personally spoken to them and told them so. I'll point out that Rabbis and Mullahs say the same.

You'll tell me that you know your flavour of your religion is the correct one because you opened your heart to God and He spoke to you, which He would not do if you were following the wrong religion (except perhaps to tell you to convert to the right religion). And I can point to millions of Catholics, Protestants, Wesleyans, Reformed Jews, Orthodox Jews, Sunnis, Shi'ites, etc. who all say the same thing. JHVH/God/Allah has spoken to them personally and told them that their flavour of their religion is the one true religion and followers of anything else (that's you) will burn in Hell forever for following the wrong religion.

They can't all be right. Like I said, you got lucky through an accident of birth: your parents just happened to follow the right religion. Your parents were lucky because their grandparents just happened to follow the right religion. And so it goes, through your ancestors, until we come to the point where your flavour of your religion branched off from another religion. Some of your ancestors made the right choice (because God spoke to them personally and told them to follow the new religion) and some of your ancestors made the wrong choice (because God spoke to them personally and told them to follow the wrong religion).

So why is it that God speaks to the vast majority of people who follow one of the thousands of wrong religions and tells them they are following the right religion? Here are the possible answers:

  1. It is very common for people to hallucinate that God is talking to them, telling them whatever they want to hear. When Paddy O'Rourke hears God telling him that Catholicism is the one true way, he's imagining it. When Sarah McNeil hears God telling her that the Church of Scotland is the one true way, she's imagining it. When Brian Smith hears God telling him that Mormism is the one true way, he's imagining it. When Osama bin Laden hears Allah telling him that Wahabi Islam is the one true way, he's imagining it. When Isaac Goldstein hears JHVH telling him that Orthodox Judaism is the one true way, he's imagining it.

    Only you, and the other tiny fraction of all religious people that share your faith, are not hallucinating when God speaks to you. I find it very implausible that the small numbers of your faith are immune from the hallucinations that afflict the followers of every other faith, but it's not impossible. However, if true, God is evil.

    Why? Because of all those other souls that will burn in Hell for eternity for an accident of birth. It's like saying "everyone living in Texas is condemned to Hell" without bothering to tell them that they ought to move out of Texas. It's not their fault they live there - it's where they were born. It's not Isaac Goldstein's fault he's an Orthodox Jew, it's because he was born to parents who were orthodox Jews. It's not Isaac's fault he has hallucinations that God talks to him because they afflict most of humanity.

    God could have created us without the propensity to hallucinate that God is talking to us. God could give us all personal signs of miracles. God could suspend a mile-high golden cross over the Vatican (or over the Edinburgh Presbytery of the Church of Scotland, or whatever) to let us all know the one true faith. Of course, if God did that then it wouldn't require faith to believe, which is your excuse for why He doesn't. But because he doesn't, billions of people throughout history are condemned to an eternity in Hell for no fault of their own.

    If this is true then God is evil.

  2. When those people of other faiths open their hearts to God, Satan answers because they're following the wrong faith. Mmmmmm, OK. So how do you know that God, rather than Satan, answered you? Because you're following the right faith. How do you know you're following the right faith? Because Satan God told you so. Hmmmm, maybe your faith is strong enough to make you ignore just how absurd your answer is, but I don't believe your answer for a second.

    But let's say you're right. By pure fucking accident you were born to parents who happen to follow the right faith so that when you dial the number they gave you for God it turns out to be the right number and not the number for Satan. Through no fault of their own, billions of people throughout history have been given the wrong number.

    If this is true then God is evil.

  3. There is a God but he accepts all religions. As long as you follow that religion and are a good person, you get into Heaven. What, any religion? How about Satanism? Of course, you'll tell me that it is impossible to be a Satanist and a good person. OK...

    As I've shown here and here it's possible to be a Christian and a bad person and still, according to Christian theology, get into Heaven. Judaism has "Yom Kippur" (the Day of Atonement) in which one must atone (make recompense) for one's sins against one's fellow man (actually, one's fellow Jew). Islam has a similar philosophy: as well as following the religious edicts you must be a good person (actually, the religious edicts say that you must be a good person). Christianity says you can do what the fuck you like as long as you go to confession or get reborn or whatever.

    So if you have to believe in any of the thousands of flavours of the three Abrahamic religions and be a good person, Christians are at a disadvantage. Sure, most Christians strive to be good people anyway, but many go with the "I can fix it in confession on Sunday" or "I can get reborn" or whatever. God does not tell Christians that, unlike Jews and Muslims, their faith leads them to think that they can get to Heaven even if they're bad people when they cannot. Billions of people throughout history left believing that their insurance policy covers something that it doesn't.

    If this is true then God is evil.

    Oh, and what about atheists who are good people? Christians say we cannot be good people yet statistics show that atheists are under-represented in the prison population and the religious (particularly Catholics) are over-represented. Some of that might be down to atheist prisoners falsely proclaiming a religion in the hope it will get them better treatment, but I doubt it.

    In any case, if there are a multitude of conflicting religions all claiming to be the one true religion and I decide that it's impossible to choose one since, at best, only one can be correct and I have thousands to choose from, yet I am a good person, why should I burn in Hell for eternity?

    If this is true then God is evil.

[Amended 11th Oct 2005 to include the following paragraph]

I forgot an alternative explanation. That everyone (who isn't suffering from schizophrenia or multiple personality disorder) who claims God talks to them is lying. There are reports of people who claim to belong to sects that "speak in tongues" who claim that they faked speaking in tongues because it was expected of them and that (they claim) it is probable that so does everyone else in that sect. It doesn't even have to be everyone who deliberately lies about God talking to them: some could be schizophrenic, some could be suffering from MPD, some could be interpreting their own inner thoughts as words from God and the majority could be lying about it because they want to conform to the expectations of their community. But I'm a charitable person, so I'm going to assume that they're all totally honest and none of them are saying the tooth fairy God talks to them because they feel it is expected of them.

Conclusion: if God really works the way any of the thousands of Abrahamic religions say He works, then God is evil.

Now for an end-note for those who wondered why I stressed that religion is not inherited but behaves like an infection. Richard Dawkins pointed out in his book The Extended Phenotype (warning, unlike most of Dawkins' books this one is heavy reading if you're not scientifically-inclined) is that the difference between a parasite/disease (a life-form in your body that does you harm) and a symbiont (a life-form in your body that does you good) is the mechanism by which they infect others. Something which can only be passed on at birth has to be symbiotic because only if your offspring do well can it do well. Something which can be passed on at any time is a parasite because you can pass it to people you meet as well as your offspring: it doesn't care if you or your offspring do well as long as you manage to live long enough to pass it on to somebody else.

Both parasite/disease and symbiont, because they are inside your body, can exert control over your body. The symbiont "wants" (to those who would say I'm being teleological, this is a short-hand for saying that symbionts which evolve with these objectives do better than those which do not have those objectives) you to survive to have children and for your children to do well. The parasite/disease doesn't care as long as you survive long enough to infect at least one other person.

Take rabies. It is concentrated in saliva. In the early stages, it makes infected animals lick their immediate contacts more than usual, thus making it more likely to spread. In the later stages, after all the immediate contacts have been infected, it makes infected animals wander far from home, thus making it more likely to encounter new targets. And in those later stages it makes the infected animal more likely to attack those new targets (by biting them). Rabies exerts a major influence upon behaviour patterns and that influence is all in favour of spreading rabies at the cost of the infected individual.

There are many other examples of symbiont and parasite/disease induced behaviour in Dawkins' Extended Phenotype. And they all show that if the spread is purely congenital (inherited or during the birth process) then the result is a symbiont (good), but if there is a significant spread by contagion then the result is almost always harmful.

I said earlier that religion is not inherited (though from a superficial analysis it might appear to be so) but is in fact a contagion. Since religion never can be inherited, the chances of it ever, on average, benefitting humanity are so close to zero you can forget about it ever happening. Which means that even if you say "Well, there may not be a God or God might even be evil but religion is a benefit to humanity" you are talking bullshit. Religion is a contagious infection that can never do anything but harm.