Thursday, March 30, 2006

Get Your War On #53

Get Your War On
New Get Your War On comics, one of the best/funniest/saddest/most infuriating batches yet.

Tuesday, March 28, 2006

We Don't Need No Stinkin' Checks And Balances

Via jwz, more on the Bush Administration's blatant power grab, in Glenn Greenwald's chilling essay Administration tells Congress (again) - We won't abide by your "laws".

the Administration is telling the Congress -- again -- that they can go and pass all the laws they want which purport to liberalize or restrict the President's powers, and it does not matter, because the President has and intends to preserve the power to do whatever he wants regardless of what those laws provide.

...The Administration has seized the power of Congress to make the laws, they have seized the power of the judiciary to interpret the laws, and they execute them as well. They have consolidated within themselves all of the powers of the government, particularly with regard to national security.

...This is not theory. The Administration is not saying these things as a joke. We really do live in a country where we have a President who has seized the unlimited power to break the law. That's not hyperbole in any way. It is reality.

Similarly, this essay on History News Network, "The Founders Never Imagined a Bush Administration":
President Bush has given Commander-in-Chief Bush unlimited wartime authority. But the "war on terror" is more a metaphor than a fact. Terrorism is a method, not an ideology; terrorists are criminals, not warriors. No peace treaty can possibly bring an end to the fight against far-flung terrorists. The emergency powers of the president during this "war" can now extend indefinitely, at the pleasure of the president and at great threat to the liberties and rights guaranteed us under the Constitution.

Friday, March 24, 2006

Bush, The Cheat Executive

Via Talking Points Memo, news that Bush signed the renewal of the USA Patriot Act, but at the same time claimed it didn't apply to him. See the Boston Globe's Bush shuns Patriot Act requirement:
When President Bush signed the reauthorization of the USA Patriot Act this month, he included an addendum saying that he did not feel obliged to obey requirements that he inform Congress about how the FBI was using the act's expanded police powers.

...The statement represented the latest in a string of high-profile instances in which Bush has cited his constitutional authority to bypass a law.

In other news, his promise to Laura to take out the trash was revealed as null and void, as he had his fingers crossed when he made it.

Thursday, March 23, 2006

Patriot Act Home Version

PATRIOT Act: Home Version
Ever been arrested based on evidence obtained under the USA PATRIOT Act, but released before they send you off to Guantanamo? Of course you haven't - nobody's released after their arrest, har har har! But seriously, if that situation were ever to come up, wouldn't it be nice if Big Brother could at least give you a consolation prize? Like on TV game shows? You know, like, a "home version of our game"? Well, now they can!

Via Slashdot, news of a fun new game for the entire family: PATRIOT Act: The Home Version.
The board game that brings the thrill of trampling the Constitution right into your home... newly updated for 2006 to include NSA wiretaps and renewal of provisions!

PATRIOT ACT: The Home Version, is a game inspired by the historic abuse of governmental powers of the same name. Many of the hypothetical situations in the game are based on real-life events. Either as a game to be played or as a statement to be read, Patriot Act: The Home Version educates the user to the current erosion of our civil rights by the government while claiming to be protecting our freedoms. John Ashcroft may no longer be Attorney General, but his legacy lives on in the anti-freedom legislation that this game is a tribute to.

The whole game - board, rules & cards - is available as free PDFs you can download and print. Have fun!

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

Tom Tomorrow Out Tomorrow

Tom Tomorrow's 'Hell In A Handbasket'

It's only $15 list; Discounts (like at Amazon) bring it down to less than $10. Just being able to read his blog every day and his cartoon every week is easily worth $10. Plus, you get a book! (Or if that's not your speed, maybe there's something at his CafePress store you'd like.)

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

That'll Be 43 Trillion Dollars, Please

Via, a link to a U.S. News & World Report article, The case of the 12 zeros. From which we get an idea of just how completely Bush & Co. are selling the U.S. not just down the river, but down through the ages.
The Bush administration and the Republican Party seem to have lost all capacity for financial self-control, turning their backs on the GOP's historical record of responsible fiscal management. The Republicans have squandered the huge budget surplus they inherited by spending not just on guns and butter but on guns, butter, and tax cuts. Because of government obfuscation, most Americans don't realize the deep fiscal hole we're in--and the fact that we're still busy digging. As David Walker, the head of the nonpartisan Government Accountability Office, pointed out, "The federal government's obligations, current liabilities, and unfunded fiscal commitments are over $43 trillion and rising. . . . Yes, that's trillions with 12 zeros rather than billions with nine zeros."

Now that's a big number, right there. It looks like this: $43,000,000,000,000. That's a lot of money. Allow me to help you understand it:
  • That's enough money to go to Starbucks and buy more than 12 trillion (12,044,817,927,170, to be exact) grande chai tea lattes, and still have $3.10 left over
  • It's enough to buy 979 billion cases of toilet paper (979,498,861,047 to be exact, and 48 rolls per case - I'll let you do that math). Not the cheap shit, either: two-ply.
  • That's enough money to divide among 924 of your best friends, and every one of them would be richer than Bill Gates
  • If you could buy countries for their GDP, you could buy 271 Finlands, four Nicaraguas and two Guadaloupes, and still have a couple billion left over for refreshments (or toilet paper)
  • In the movie Animal House, if Flounder had said, "May I have 43 trillion marbles, please?" in that cute, sheepish way that he said, "May I have ten thousand marbles, please?", it would have been 4.3 billion times funnier
  • If you could count a dollar per second, it would take you more than a million years (1,362,587 years, plus an extra 283 days, to be exact) just to count it. And that's without bathroom breaks. Or, maybe you can carry some singles into the bathroom with you.
  • Okay, that last one wasn't realistic. You'd surely count it all as hundreds, which would be a big timesaver: it would then take less than 13,626 years. And you'd end in November, so on that thirteen thousandth, six hundred twenty-sixth year, you could have Thanksgiving and Christmas off. Lucky!

Monday, March 20, 2006

Will Durst: "Impale the Sombitch!"

Will Durst asks (and answers) the Big Question: Impeachment? Hell no, impalement. And I'm right there with him.
I don't know about you guys, but I am so sick and tired of these lying, thieving, holier-than-thou, right-wing, cruel, crude, rude, gauche, coarse, crass, cocky, corrupt, dishonest, debauched, degenerate, dissolute, swaggering, lawyer shooting, bullhorn shouting, infrastructure destroying, hysterical, history defying, finger-pointing, puppy stomping...

It goes on like this for a while - really, you should read it all - and ends with:
...deadly, illegal, pernicious, lethal, haughty, venomous, virulent, ineffectual, mephitic, egotistic, bloodthirsty, incompetent, hypocritical, did I say evil, I'm not sure if I said evil, because I want to make sure I say evil... EVIL, cretinous, fool, toad, buttwipe, lizardstick, cowardly, lackey imperialistic tool slime buckets in the Bush Administration that I could just spit. Impeachment, hell no. Impalement.

Friday, March 17, 2006

More on Bushonomics

Is it my fault Josh Marshall at Talking Points Memo is so linkable today? (No.)

[L]iberals or Democrats aren't committed to high rates of government spending as a core principle in the way that conservatives are with tax cuts. Yes, they believe in more social spending as a general rule. And there are certainly cases when that's led to fiscal excess. The distinction is an important one -- and one conservatives have a difficult time facing. But, in any case, what President Bush has done over the last five years -- with the unfailing support of pretty much every Republican elected official and pundit -- isn't 'big spending.' It's intentionally reckless fiscal policy which is going to create havoc for the country's finances for years to come.

If a Democrat tried to send soldiers to war and forgot to buy them ammunition or passed a health care plan without enough money for necessary drugs, that wouldn't make him closet conservative. It would mean he was incompetent. And voters would hold him to account.

That's a nice, succinct way to to put it, and just one little counterpoint to the "liberals = big spenders" drum endlessly pounded by those on the right. Plus a great zinger at the end.


Via Talking Points Memo, a good article on Slate, "Claude Allen's Mentor - Shoplifting and Bushonomics". The punchline comes right up front:
[T]he more we hear about what [Claude] Allen is accused of, the less it sounds like kleptomania and the more it sounds like an application of Bush economic policy.

From there on it's my kind of journalism: a combination of cheap shots and good points.

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

Mar. 18 Onion

Barry Bonds And Steroids - An Onion Sports Special Report
Is this week's Onion half empty, or half full?
  • Barry Bonds Took Steroids, Reports Everyone Who Has Ever Watched Baseball
    According to hundreds of thousands of reports coming out of every city in the U.S., Bonds' steroid use has been widely reported and well-documented for years, with sports columnists, bloggers, people attending baseball games, memorabilia collectors, major ballpark popcorn and peanut vendors, groundskeepers, roommates, significant others, fathers-in-law, next-door neighbors, fellow fitness club members, bartenders, mailmen, coworkers, teachers, doormen, parking-lot attendants, fellow elevator passengers, Home Depot clerks, servicemen and women serving in Iraq, former baseball players, Congressmen, second-tier stand-up comics, Sports Illustrated's Rick Reilly, and random passersby all having stated at some point in the last five years that Bonds was obviously taking some sort of performance-enhancing drugs.

  • Conspiracy Theorist Has Elaborate Explanation For Why He's Single
    "I am alone today due to the covert machinations of dozens, possibly hundreds of women in several countries," Ericsson, 38, said. "What we are looking at is a plot of epic proportions, which may seem counterintuitive, but that is, in fact, precisely what they would like you to believe."

Monday, March 13, 2006

American Bar Assoc.: "Abide By the Constitution, Sombitch!"

Via Ralph Nader, news of an American Bar Association (ABA) task force report "accusing President Bush, in polite legal language, of violating both the Constitution and federal law." The full report, and the cover letter they sent with it to the White House, are the first two links on the ABA page, Task Force on Domestic Surveillance in the Fight Against Terrorism.

As Nader notes, the mass media (you know, the Diabolically Anti-Bush Liberal Media) sure missed this news.
The mass media, which has finally produced many exposés of the Bush war, ignored the significance of this condemnation by the nation's largest body of lawyers, written in part by attorneys who have served in the FBI, CIA and NSA. It should have been page one news.

And maybe it still will be; it's good stuff. A sampling:
RESOLVED, that the American Bar Association calls upon the President to abide by the limitations which the Constitution imposes on a president under our system of checks and balances and respect the essential roles of the Congress and the judicial branch in ensuring that our national security is protected in a manner consistent with constitutional guarantees;

FURTHER RESOLVED, that the American Bar Association opposes any future electronic surveillance inside the United States by any U.S. government agency...

FURTHER RESOLVED, that the American Bar Association urges the Congress to affirm that the Authorization for Use of Military Force (AUMF), did not provide a statutory exception to the FISA requirements...

FURTHER RESOLVED, that the American Bar Association urges the Congress to conduct a thorough, comprehensive investigation to determine: (a) the nature and extent of electronic surveillance of U.S. persons... (b) what basis or bases were advanced ... for the legality of such surveillance; (c) whether the Congress was properly informed of and consulted as to the surveillance; (d) the nature of the information obtained... and (e) whether this information was used in legal proceedings against any U.S. citizen.

FURTHER RESOLVED, that the American Bar Association urges the Congress to ensure that such proceedings are open to the public...

FURTHER RESOLVED, that the American Bar Association urges the Congress to thoroughly review and make recommendations concerning the intelligence oversight process, and urges the President to ensure that the House and Senate are fully and currently informed of all intelligence operations as required by the National Security Act of 1947.

Sunday, March 12, 2006

Russ Feingold: "Censure the Sombitch!"

Via Atrios, news on Think Progress of plans by Sen. Russ Feingold to introduce a resolution to censure Bush.
...what the President did by consciously and intentionally violating the constitutional laws of this country with this illegal wiretapping has to be answered. There can be debate about whether the law should be changed. There can be debate about how best to fight terrorism. We all believe that there should be wiretapping in appropriate cases. But the idea that the President can just make up a law in violation of his oath of office has to be answered.

Further details in a press release from Feingold's office .

Thursday, March 09, 2006

The Monkeysphere

Via Tiny Revolution, a link to an excellent explanation of many of the woes of human life on Earth (seriously): Inside The Monkeysphere.
Yes, the Monkeysphere. That's the group of people who each of us, using our monkeyish brains, are able to conceptualize as people. If the monkey scientists are monkey right, it's physically impossible for this to be a number larger than 150. Most of us do not have room in our Monkeysphere for our friendly neighborhood Sanitation Worker. So, we don't think of him as a person. We think of him The Thing That Makes The Trash Go Away.

...This is literally the reason society doesn't work quite right. The people who exist outside that core group of a few dozen people are not people to us. They're sort of one-dimensional bit characters.

...That's the whole thing, right here. Life on Earth, in a nutshell. We are hard-wired to have a drastic double standard for the people inside and out of our Monkeysphere and those outside make up 99.999% of the world's population.

Have you ever gotten pissed off in traffic? Like, really pissed off? I think we all have. We've thrown finger gestures and wedged our heads out of the window and screamed "LEARN TO FUCKING DRIVE, FUCKER!!" We've all pulled the gun out of the glove compartment and let a few fly at the offending car. Not firing at their head or anything. Just, you know, at their tires.

Now imagine yourself standing in an elevator with three other people, two friends and a coworker. A friend goes to hit a button and accidentally punches the wrong one. Would you lean over, your mouth two inches from her ear, and scream "LEARN TO OPERATE THE FUCKING ELEVATOR BUTTONS, SHITCAMEL!!"

They'd think you'd gone insane. We all go a little insane, though, when we get in a group larger than the Monkeysphere.

More examples, more insight, and lots more laughs are all yours, if you'll only read all.

Wednesday, March 08, 2006

Bill of Rights Cards & 4th Amendment Tape

Bill of Rights, Security Edition

Via jwz, a cool product: Bill of Rights, Security Edition. It's a pocket-sized metal card - just big enough to set off metal detectors.
The next time you travel by air, take the Bill of Rights - Security Edition along with you. When asked to empty your pockets, proudly toss the Bill of Rights in the plastic bin.

You need to get used to offering up the bill of rights for inspection and government workers enforcing the USAPATRIOT ACT need to get used to deciding if you'll be allowed to keep the Bill of Rights with you when you travel.

Penn Jillette loves them, anyway.

And if you like symbolically giving up the bill of rights when you fly, you'll love having the 4th amendment symbolically sliced through to have your luggage and packages searched. The EFF sells 4th Amendment packing tape. (They sell the Bill of Rights Cards, too, but it's a fundraiser for them, so they cost more.) As the designer, Brad Templeton, says:
You can put this shipping tape on your packages and your airplane luggage. Every time I fly, my luggage gets a card in it telling me how “for my protection” they have searched it.

Now, when they open my luggage, they will have to literally slice the 4th amendment in half in order to do this.

Friday, March 03, 2006

Penn & Teller's "Desert Bus"

Desert Bus screenshot
Via Daring Fireball, news of an old, never-released CD-ROM game for the Sega and 3D0 systems: Penn & Teller's Smoke and Mirrors. The most interesting part of the game, which is the kind of totally awesome and off-the-wall idea that people talk about, and joke about, but usually never actually do, is "Desert Bus".
The goal of Desert Bus was to, quite simply, drive a bus from Tucson, Arizona to Las Vegas, Nevada; a very very boring drive, as those of us who have done it know. There were a couple catches, though: in the game, your bus could not go over 45 miles per hour. Also, it veered to the right, just ever so slightly, so you could not simply tape down the accelerator button on your Genesis pad and leave the game alone; you had to man the wheel at all times. Oh, and did we mention the trip takes eight hours, in real time?

"You saw nothing. It was just desert stuff going by," said Jillette. "And there was a little green tree hanging from the rear-view mirror, one of those things that makes your car smell better? And it would just kind of drift in slowly to one corner of the screen. And you couldn't take your hands off the controller, and if you didn't have a spectacular crash, it just slowly went into the sand, and then overheated and stopped, and then the game was you being towed backwards all the way back to Tucson."

"And when you went from Tucson to Vegas and did the full 8 hours, you had bus stops, and the bus could stop and open the door, but no one got on. No one's ever waiting for you. And if you went by them you weren't punished at all, because nobody was there. It meant nothing. And a bug hit your windshield five times during the eight hours, and that was the only animation. It was just road after road after road. Eight hours of desert bus. And then when you got in - and I love this - when you got into Vegas and pulled in and stopped, the counter - which was five zeros - went to 1. You got 1 point for an eight hour shift, and then a guy came in and said, 'Do you want to pull a double shift, Mac?' And then you could drive back to Tucson for another eight hours for another point." has a link to the disc image, the podcast interview with Penn quoted above, and other links to more screenshots and reviews.

Wednesday, March 01, 2006

Mar. 1 Onion

Better late than never: this week's Onion

  • Rotation Of Earth Plunges Entire North American Continent Into Darkness
    Bilkins urged citizens to remain calm, explaining that the Earth's rotation is "utterly beyond human control."

    "The only thing a sensible person can do is wait it out," she said.

    Commerce has been brought to a virtual standstill, with citizens electing either to remain home with loved ones or gather in dimly lit restaurants and bars.

  • Modern-Day John Henry Dies Trying To Out-Spreadsheet Excel 11.0
    Sources say Peters, who was born to poor temp workers in eastern Virginia, would often go to offices where his mother worked and sit on her knee. According to his family, he once took up her pencil and said, "Pencil be the death of me. Oh, Mommy, this pencil be the death of me."

  • Infograph: Nick Lachey's Divorce Conditions
    • Right to visit "Nick & Jessica" fan sites Wednesdays, Saturdays and every other Christmas
    • Gets to keep Simpson's virginity
    • Anytime Simpson's version of "These Boots Were Made For Walking" comes on car radio, Nick can legally commit vehicular manslaughter