"If you understood everything I said, you'd be me" - Miles Davis
"There is much pleasure to be gained from useless knowledge." - Bertrand Russell
"Take away the right to say fuck and you take away the right to say fuck the government." - Lenny Bruce
"Facts are meaningless. You could use facts to prove anything that's even remotely true!" - Homer Simpson

Utility Fog Banner

Baby Want Brainsss
scary child and ham
From The BigMoboDaddy, Gallery of Demonic Tots and Deeply Disturbing Cuisine

Cue Mad Scientist Laugh
As promised, I've finally written my own plugin for Blosxom, the program that runs this blog. If you look over to the left you'll see a sidebar block with links to the blog posts that have the 10 latest comments. I'm inordinately proud of this, especially because it means I can add all sorts of all-blinking, all-dancing cgi goodness to the Utility Fog Blog.

desmond's girlfriend vs claire baby adoptee
The woman with Desmond in the photo in the Hatch is still not Jack's wife Sarah. But she is the woman who tried to adopt Clair's unborn baby.
Link between Clair and Desmond (Alt.TV.Lost Newsgroup)

More Manholes
japanese manhole
Manholes of Japan
Via Neatorama

53 True Facts About Chuck Norris
"1. Chuck Norris' tears cure cancer. Too bad he has never cried.

2. Chuck Norris does not sleep. He waits.

3. Chuck Norris does not hunt, because the word 'hunting' infers the probability of failure. Chuck Norris goes killing.

4. Chuck Norris counted to infinity - twice.

5. Chuck Norris sold his soul to the devil for his rugged good looks and unparalleled martial arts ability. Shortly after the transaction was finalized, Chuck roundhouse kicked the devil in the face and took his soul back. The devil, who appreciates irony, couldn't stay mad and admitted he should have seen it coming. They now play poker every second Wednesday of the month.

6. When the Boogeyman goes to sleep every night, he checks his closet for Chuck Norris.

7. If you can see Chuck Norris, he can see you. If you can't see Chuck Norris, you may be only seconds away from death.

8. Chuck Norris is currently suing NBC, claiming 'Law and Order' are trademarked names for his left and right legs.

9. Chuck Norris has already been to Mars; that's why there are no signs of life there.

10. The chief export of Chuck Norris is pain.

11. Chuck Norris built a time machine and went back in time to stop the JFK assassination. As Oswald shot, Chuck met all three bullets with his beard, deflecting them. JFK's head exploded out of sheer amazement.

12. President Bush DID have a sure fire plan to end the war in Iraq; However, Chuck Norris was busy that day.

13. When Chuck Norris sends in his taxes, he sends blank forms and includes only a picture of himself, crouched and ready to attack. Chuck Norris has not had to pay taxes ever.

14. Chuck Norris sleeps with a night light. Not because Chuck Norris is afraid of the dark, but the dark is afraid of Chuck Norris.

15. As a teen, Chuck Norris impregnated every nun in a convent tucked away in the hills of Tuscany. Nine months later, the nuns gave birth to the 1972 Miami Dolphins, the only undefeated team in professional football history.

16. A blind man once stepped on Chuck Norris' shoe. Chuck replied, "Don't you know who I am? I'm Chuck Norris!" The mere mention of his name cured the man?s blindness. Sadly, the first, last, and only thing this man ever saw, was a fatal roundhouse kick delivered by Chuck Norris.

17. If Chuck Norris is late, time better slow the hell down.

18. Chuck Norris' action figure has slept with more women then most men.

19. Chuck Norris can touch MC Hammer.

20. Chuck Norris doesn't read books. He stares them down until he gets the information he wants.

21. Oxygen requires Chuck Norris to live.

22. Superman owns a pair of Chuck Norris pajamas.

23. Chuck Norris appeared in the "Street Fighter II" video game, but was removed by Beta Testers because every button caused him to do a roundhouse kick. When asked bout this glitch, Norris replied, "That's no glitch," and proceeded to kill them with a devastating roundhouse kick.

24. Chuck Norris lost his virginity before his dad did.

25. Someone once tried to tell Chuck Norris that roundhouse kicks aren't the best way to kick someone. This has been recorded by historians as the worst mistake anyone has ever made.

26. Chuck Norris once ate three 72 oz. steaks in one hour. He spent the first 45 minutes having sex with his waitress.

27. At birth, Chuck Norris came out feet first so he could roundhouse kick the doctor in the face. Nobody delivers Chuck Norris but Chuck Norris.

28. Chuck Norris was the fourth Wise Man. He brought baby Jesus the gift of "beard." Jesus wore it proudly to his dying day. The other Wisemen, jealous of Jesus' obvious gift favoritism, used their combined influence to have Chuck omitted from the Bible. Shortly after, all three died of roundhouse kick related deaths.

29. When Chuck Norris plays Oregon Trail, his family does not die from cholera or dysentery, but rather roundhouse kicks to the face. He also requires no wagon, since he carries the oxen, axels, and buffalo meat on his back. He always makes it to Oregon before you.

30. After much debate, President Truman decided to drop the atomic bomb on Hiroshima rather than the alternative of sending Chuck Norris. His reasoning? It was more "humane."

31. Chuck Norris once shot a German plane down with his finger, by yelling "Bang!"

32. The original theme song to the Transformers was actually "Chuck Norris?more than meets the eye, Chuck Norris?robot in disguise." It starred Chuck Norris as a Texas Ranger who defended the earth from drug-dealing Decepticons; and could turn into a pick-up. This was far too much awesome for a single show, however, so it was divided.

33. If you ask Chuck Norris what time it is, he always says, "Two seconds till." After you ask, "Two seconds till what?" he roundhouse kicks you in the face.

34. There are no disabled people. Only people who have met Chuck Norris.

35. Chuck Norris can win a game of Monopoly without owning any property.

36. There is no theory of evolution, just a list of creatures Chuck Norris allows to live.

37. In fine print on the last page of the Guinness Book of World Records, it notes that all world records are held by Chuck Norris, and those listed in the book are simply the closest anyone has ever gotten.

38. In an average living room there are 1,242 objects Chuck Norris could use to kill you, including the room itself.

39. Chuck Norris is the only man to ever defeat a brick wall in a game of tennis.

40. Chuck Norris has two speeds: walk and kill.

41. When Chuck Norris jumps into a body of water, he doesn't get wet. The water gets Chuck Norris instead.

42. Chuck Norris can divide by zero.

43. A Handicap parking sign does not signify that this spot is for handicapped people. It is actually in fact a warning, that the spot belongs to Chuck Norris and that you will be handicapped if you park there.

44. Chuck Norris ordered a Big Mac at Burger King, and got one.

45. Chuck Norris is 1/8th Cherokee. This has nothing to do with ancestry; the man ate an Indian.

46. Chuck Norris once bet NASA he could survive re-entry without a spacesuit. On July 19th, 1999, a naked Chuck Norris re-entered the earth's atmosphere, streaking over 14 states and reaching a temperature of 3000 degrees. An embarrassed NASA publically claimed it was a meteor, and still owes him a beer.

47. When Chuck Norris was denied an Egg McMuffin at McDonald's because it was 10:35, he roundhouse kicked the store so hard it became a Wendy's.

48. In honor of Chuck Norris, all McDonald's in Texas have an even larger size than the super-size. When ordering, just ask to be "Norrisized".

49. Chuck Norris can believe it's not butter.

50. When Chuck Norris talks, everybody listens. And dies.

51. Chuck Norris has the greatest Poker-Face of all time. He won the 1983 World Series of Poker, despite holding only a Joker, a Get out of Jail Free Monopoly card, a 2 of clubs, 7 of spades and a green #4 card from the game UNO.

52. The Bermuda Triangle used to be the Bermuda Square, until Chuck Norris Roundhouse kicked one of the corners off.

53. An anagram for Walker Texas Ranger is KARATE WRANGLER SEX. I don't know what that is, but it sounds awesome. "
Via The C.D.P.

Lost/Recurring Box II
Of course other people have noticed the box. Here are two links to captures of it in Wayne's house (What Kate Did):

Box at Wayne's House
Box at Wayne's House (closeup)

The First UFog post

lego robot from neutronbot.com
Two Cool Lego Sites:

Nextbrick Blog

Via robot wisdom weblog

Al Gore MLK Day Speech
"Can it be true that any president really has such powers under our Constitution? If the answer is "yes" then under the theory by which these acts are committed, are there any acts that can on their face be prohibited? If the President has the inherent authority to eavesdrop on American citizens without a warrant, imprison American citizens on his own declaration, kidnap and torture, then what can't he do?

The Dean of Yale Law School, Harold Koh, said after analyzing the Executive Branch's extravagant claims of these previously unrecognized powers: "If the President has commander-in-chief power to commit torture, he has the power to commit genocide, to sanction slavery, to promote apartheid, to license summary execution."

The fact that our normal American safeguards have thus far failed to contain this unprecedented expansion of executive power is, itself, deeply troubling. This failure is due in part to the fact that the Executive Branch has followed a determined strategy of obfuscating, delaying, withholding information, appearing to yield but then refusing to do so and dissembling in order to frustrate the efforts of the legislative and judicial branches to restore a healthy constitutional balance.

For example, after appearing to support legislation sponsored by John McCain to stop the continuation of torture, the President declared in the act of signing the bill that he reserved the right not to comply with it. Similarly, the Executive Branch claimed that it could unilaterally imprison American citizens without giving them access to review by any tribunal. And when the Supreme Court disagreed, the President engaged in legal maneuvers designed to prevent the Court from providing any meaningful content to the rights of the citizens affected.

A conservative jurist on the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals wrote that the Executive branch's handling of one such case seemed to involve the sudden abandonment of principle, and I quote him, "at substantial cost to the government's credibility before the courts."

As a result of this unprecedented claim of new unilateral power, the Executive branch has now put our constitutional design at grave risk. The stakes for America's democracy are far higher than has been generally recognized.

These claims must be rejected and a healthy balance of power restored to our Republic. Otherwise, the fundamental nature of our democracy may well undergo a radical transformation."
Al Gore MLK Day 2006 Speech
Via The BigMoboDaddy

Lost/Recurring Box
Comparison of two decorative boxes on Lost
The same kind of box appears in an apartment in Australia and Station #3 (aka the Hatch). This might be meaningful or it might be nothing-they do make mistakes in the set design.I doubt that TPTB will ever explain the retro-looking yet modern washing machine and dryer in the hatch. What's in the box?

Source Screen Captures:
Box in "The Greater Good"
Box in "The Hunting Party"

Suggested by a post at the Fuselage

My apologies to everyone who left a comment in the last week or so-I finally got around to paying attention to you. Thanks again for posting.

Under My Feet
artistic seattle manhole
I had no idea that Seattle has artistic manhole covers
Via Extreme Craft

Lost/No Forcefield (Yet)
There's been interweb speculation that "Zeke" bounced a shot from Sawyer back using some kind of force field. To me, it was clear Sawyer hadn't fired his gun. And now, from Javier Grillo-Marxuach, writer and supervising producer for "Lost", on the Fuselage: Sawyer was shot at by an Other.

Lost/Mystery Solved
zeke other/muppet
The Original "Zeke".

Clearly this means the island is infested with Muppets.
Now I'm free to watch "Mythbusters" on Wednesday night.
Via Alt.TV.Lost

Lost/Ep#212-"The Hunting Party"
* The new combo to the gun-room is 25 right (2 times), 29 left (2 times), and then something like 24 right.

* Geronimo Jackson- The Apache Indian chief Geronimo fought the U.S. Army during the time of Andrew Jackson. Geronimo was said not to leave footprints.

* Hatch Mural- Are there 2 of these? I thought one was in the hallway but a mural shows up in the room with the record player. Also, some people think the box on the table also showed up in Wayne's house (What Kate Did, Ep#209) and Essem's friend's house (Greater Good , Ep#121, Sayid-centric).

Three Screen Caps of Mural & Box:
Hunting Party Mural 1
Hunting Party Mural 2
Hunting Party Mural 3

* The song Hurley and Charlie played was "Fall On Me" by the Pousette-Dart Band.

* "Mr. Friendly" aka "Zeke" quoted Alvar Hanso when he said "From the dawn of our species, Man has been blessed with curiosity."

* "Mr. Friendly" asked "Alex" to give him Kate. Alex is the name of Rousseau's Other-napped daughter.

* Michael told Jack "He had to go alone". Michael knew where to go. I think the person on the other end of the computer told him to come alone and where to go. It might not have been Walt.

* My Thoughts: The Others have something to hide.

Tagging Goodness
Metafilter and Ask Metafilter have tagging systems now.

For a long time I've wanted a way to add functions to this blog. I could do it by writing a plugin for the Blosxom software that generates this page, but that would require me to learn Perl. I don't really want to go through the time and effort to learn Perl, but I can write scripts in Bash. I had a brainstorm the other day and went on the web looking for ways to run a Bash script from with Perl, which turns out not only to be possible, but trivial. So all I have to do is write a tiny Perl Blosxom-plugin that calls a Bash script that will do all the heavy lifting and then pass information back to Blosxom. Now I have a way to have a short list of posts with recent comments and a random thumbnail of my computer art to put in the sidebar. Of course, first I have to write the code.

If you're curious, I've written a CSS Flavour/Alternative Version of Utility Fog Blog that uses CSS instead of Tables. Well, the header and navigation button sections still use tables, but the sidebar and blog posts are all CSS. One difference I notice is that my browser is noticebly slower to report a link on mouseover. I just recently figured out Blosxom's flavour feature, which I use to easily test layout possibilities without futzing with the site the public sees.

Lost/Story Mechanics
"The Ten Commandments of Lost:

1. Thou shalt not share information, lest answers be had.
- Examples of enforcement: no one discussing the whispers, Hurley not telling anyone about the numbers, Jack seeing his father, Locke seeing 'the monster', Locke and Boone not mentioning the hatch, Sayid's failure to mention the cable, Michael, Jin, and Sawyer's complete failure to tell anyone about the Others on the boat.
- Examples of this law being broken: Shannon telling Sayid that she saw Walt, Sayid revealing that he saw Walt.
2. Thou shalt not investigate strange findings on the island, lest answers be had.
- Examples of enforcement: No one cares about the cable on the beach (partly because not many people know about it, thanks to commandment 1), No one investigating the computer in the hatch, no one has investigated the source of the radio broadcast.
- Examples of this law being broken: Sayid following the cable on the beach, Hurley investigating the numbers, Locke digging up the hatch.
3. Thou shalt not seriously interrogate anyone who could possibly have answers, lest answers be had.
- Examples of enforcement: Complete failure to glean any useful information from Danielle, Ethan.
- Examples of this law being broken: questioning of Desmond & Goodwin, however this was very, very basic questioning.
4. Thou shalt not question seemingly unexplainable things, lest answers be had.
- Examples of enforcement: No one questions how the Black Rock got where it is, Jack and Kate shrugging off the black smoke, exploding trees, Locke being dragged into the ground without a second mention.
- Examples of this law being broken: Discussions of the 'Monster' (rare).
5. Thou shalt not explore the island, lest answers be had.
- Examples of enforcement: Episode after episode, there has been extremely limited exploration.
- Examples of this law being broken: Sayid venturing off to map the island.
6. Thou shalt kill anyone who is about to reveal answers about the island.
- Examples of enforcement: Ethan, Goodwin.
- Examples of this law being broken: Desmond, Danielle.
7. Thou shalt conveniently forget to follow up on anything curious about the island.
- Examples of enforcement: Black Rock, Black Smoke, Quarantine sign, Radio signal, tides which washed away fuselage, Adam & Eve.
- Examples of this law being broken: Locke's interest in the hatch, repeated viewings of the Orientation film.
8. If thou dost have answers, thou shalt speak either vaguely or not at all.
- Examples of enforcement: Danielle, Ethan, Goodwin.
- Examples of this law being broken: Desmond (albeit he could have been lying).
9. Thou shalt not ever reveal any details of your past, lest answers be had.
- Examples of enforcement: Kate, Jack, Locke.
- Examples of this law being broken: Hurley, Charlie.
10. Thou shalt not use that radio.
- Examples of enforcement: Ana-Lucia turning off the radio, Sayid giving up on the radio, Danielle giving up on the radio.
- Examples of this law being broken: Boone using the radio (immediately punished for breaking this law! Heh)"
The Lostaway's massive incuriosity has made me wonder if they're drugged or under some form of mind control. I hope so, else they're the dumbest bunch of coconuts under the sun.
Via The Fuselage

gyros signs of Chicago
The Gyros Project: featuring the gyros signs of Chicago
Via PCL LinkDump

Lost/Disturbing Hurley-Wear
hurley in wizard robe?

Sweet peanut-eating jeebus, please let this be from a dream-sequence.

My Inner Child Just Exploded
baby doll centipede
Jon Beinart's Scorpie Toddlerpede

Via Neatorama

My Library Is Incomplete
Books Bound In Human Skin

Via Neatorama

Welcome To The Future
Ian Pearson's Guide to the Future Ian is British Telecom?s resident futurologist.
I recommend a bad day in 2020
Via Warrenellis.com

Lost/Kinks Song
Charlie was Singing 'He's Evil'

Now I want to know what Locke has against ranch dressing.

Lost/23 Psalm
*Images In Monster/Smoke, they seem to be from Eko's past

*Monster/Smoke in Slow-Mo

*The middle-eastern looking drug dealers mentioned the word "Sayid", among other untranslated middle-eastern grumbling.

*I want to know what the safe combo was and what Kinks song Charlie was mangling.

*My general take: Yeah Yeah, we saw the Monster, big whoop. And now we know that Eko did Bad Things in the past-what a surprise. But we learned NOTHING about any of the big questions. I predict the next ep will end right after we hear the line "This Island Is Ours!" (from the trailer) and we'll be left hanging high and dry.

Circle 7, Annex 147, The Inferno
It's probably for the best that I don't have that "Scanners" power. You know, the one where you concentrate real hard and somebody's head explodes. Because if I did, today the Post Office would be have been skulls-a'poppin. I think Dante missed an important section of Hell-the one where you wait in line behind the dreaded "Elderly Chatter".

Ask MetaFilter considers Where did pirate speech come from?

Fresh Bruce Goodness
It's time for Bruce Sterling's 2006 on-line interview
"This isn't a "Chinese century," or anything so corny and fearsome. The Chinese have got maybe 25, 30 lively years in the sun before they run into the weirdest demographic problems on the planet. That doesn't even count their restive land-empire and the pervasive corruption problems they have. We ought to be crossing our fingers for the Chinese people, rather than sitting in some neocon bunker plotting their demise.

I already saw this handwringing playbook, back when Japan was booming in the 80s. Did we all die because Japan boomed? Do we hate them forever? It's a non-issue."
Via my buddy The BigMoboDaddy, who should still have his own blog

It Blew Up Real Good, Floyd
Notes from the Technology Underground features anvil firing, exploding chickens, flying squirrel men and other fascinating topics:
"The Technology Underground Blog: Extreme Tinkering and Radical Self Expression Through Technology This blog covers events where things that go whoosh, boom, or splat are featured. On-Topic examples include events that have rockets, pulse jets, tesla coils, magnaformers, homemade subs, pyrotechnics, railguns, catapults, etc . . ."
There are books too.
Via Boing Boing!

"When the New York Times revealed that George W. Bush had ordered the National Security Agency to wiretap the foreign calls of American citizens without seeking court permission, as is indisputably required by the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA), passed by Congress in 1978, he faced a decision. Would he deny the practice, or would he admit it? He admitted it. But instead of expressing regret, he took full ownership of the deed, stating that his order had been entirely justified, that he had in fact renewed it thirty times, that he would continue to renew it and--going even more boldly on the offensive--that those who had made his law-breaking known had committed a "shameful act." As justification, he offered two arguments, one derisory, the other deeply alarming. The derisory one was that Congress, by authorizing him to use force after September 11, had authorized him to suspend FISA, although that law is unmentioned in the resolution. Thus has Bush informed the members of a supposedly co-equal branch of government of what, unbeknownst to themselves, they were thinking when they cast their vote. The alarming argument is that as Commander in Chief he possesses "inherent" authority to suspend laws in wartime. But if he can suspend FISA at his whim and in secret, then what law can he not suspend? What need is there, for example, to pass or not pass the Patriot Act if any or all of its provisions can be secretly exceeded by the President?

Bush's choice marks a watershed in the evolution of his Administration. Previously when it was caught engaging in disgraceful, illegal or merely mistaken or incompetent behavior, he would simply deny it. "We have found the weapons of mass destruction!" "We do not torture!" However, further developments in the torture matter revealed a shift. Even as he denied the existence of torture, he and his officials began to defend his right to order it. His Attorney General, Alberto Gonzales, refused at his confirmation hearings to state that the torture called waterboarding, in which someone is brought to the edge of drowning, was prohibited. Then when Senator John McCain sponsored a bill prohibiting cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment of prisoners, Bush threatened to veto the legislation to which it was attached. It was only in the face of majority votes in both houses against such treatment that he retreated from his claim.

But in the wiretapping matter, he has so far exhibited no such vacillation. Secret law-breaking has been supplanted by brazen law-breaking. The difference is critical. If abuses of power are kept secret, there is still the possibility that, when exposed, they will be stopped. But if they are exposed and still permitted to continue, then every remedy has failed, and the abuse is permanently ratified. In this case, what will be ratified is a presidency that has risen above the law.

The danger is not abstract or merely symbolic. Bush's abuses of presidential power are the most extensive in American history. He has launched an aggressive war ("war of choice," in today's euphemism) on false grounds. He has presided over a system of torture and sought to legitimize it by specious definitions of the word. He has asserted a wholesale right to lock up American citizens and others indefinitely without any legal showing or the right to see a lawyer or anyone else. He has kidnapped people in foreign countries and sent them to other countries, where they were tortured. In rationalizing these and other acts, his officials have laid claim to the unlimited, uncheckable and unreviewable powers he has asserted in the wiretapping case. He has tried to drop a thick shroud of secrecy over these and other actions.

There is a name for a system of government that wages aggressive war, deceives its citizens, violates their rights, abuses power and breaks the law, rejects judicial and legislative checks on itself, claims power without limit, tortures prisoners and acts in secret. It is dictatorship. "
The Hidden State Steps Forward
Via MetaFilter

Lost/Hulk Bored, Hulk Want New Shows
You scored 62% kindness, 47% courage, 55% seedy past, and 66% secretiveness!

"No girl's just like me."

You are Kate. You are caring, brave, stubborn, and persistent. You have a checkered past that haunts you. You have yet to tell anyone the truth about pretty much anything, which is certainly not healthy. If you think Jack will judge you harshly, go tell Sawyer or Sun. You're a tough cookie, but everyone has feelings. Start being more honest with the others, and you'll be right as rain.

Your polar opposite is: Walt You are similar to: Sawyer and Charlie.

My test tracked 4 variables How you compared to other people your age and gender:
free online datingfree online dating
You scored higher than 64% on kindness
free online datingfree online dating
You scored higher than 25% on courage
free online datingfree online dating
You scored higher than 64% on seedy past
free online datingfree online dating
You scored higher than 64% on secretiveness
The Which Lost Character Are You Test

Lost/Seabillies Redux?
From an ABC Press Release:
""The Hunting Party" - Jack, Locke and Sawyer pursue a determined Michael after he heads into the jungle toward the dreaded "Others" in search of Walt. Meanwhile, Sun has a surprising reaction to Jin's desire to join the search party, and Hurley and Charlie commiserate over the age-old conundrum of "what women want," on "Lost," WEDNESDAY, JANUARY 18 (9:00-10:00 p.m., ET), on the ABC Television Network.
Guest starring are John Terry as Dr. Shephard, Julie Bowen as Sarah, Monica Dean as Gabriela, Ronald Guttman as Angelo and M.C. Gainey as Mr. Friendly."
M.C. Gainey last appeared at the end of Season 1 (Exodus pt.2) as the captain of the boat that kidnapped Walt, aka the "Bearded Man"

I Would Have Paid Good Money To See This
"A pack of angry Chihuahuas attacked a police officer who was escorting a teenager home following a traffic stop, authorities said.

The officer suffered minor injuries including bites to his ankle on Thursday when the five Chihuahuas escaped the 17-year-old boy's home and rushed the officer in the doorway, said Fremont detective Bill Veteran."
Pack of angry Chihuahuas attack officer
Via Fark

Book 'Em
Regarding NSA warrentless wiretaps:
"This is against the law. I have put references to the relevant statute below the fold; the brief version is: the law forbids warrantless surveillance of US citizens, and it provides procedures to be followed in emergencies that do not leave enough time for federal agents to get a warrant. If the NY Times report is correct, the government did not follow these procedures. It therefore acted illegally.

Bush's order is arguably unconstitutional as well: it seems to violate the fourth amendment, and it certainly violates the requirement (Article II, sec. 3) that the President "shall take Care that the Laws be faithfully executed."

I am normally extremely wary of talking about impeachment. I think that impeachment is a trauma for the country, and that it should only be considered in extreme cases. Moreover, I think that the fact that Clinton was impeached raises the bar as far as impeaching Bush: two traumas in a row is really not good for the country, and even though my reluctance to go through a second impeachment benefits the very Republicans who needlessly inflicted the first on us, I don't care. It's bad for the country, and that matters most.

But I have a high bar, not a nonexistent one. And for a President to order violations of the law meets my criteria for impeachment. This is exactly what got Nixon in trouble: he ordered his subordinates to obstruct justice. To the extent that the two cases differ, the differences make what Bush did worse: after all, it's not as though warrants are hard to get, or the law makes no provision for emergencies. Bush could have followed the law had he wanted to. He chose to set it aside.

And this is something that no American should tolerate. We claim to have a government of laws, not of men. That claim means nothing if we are not prepared to act when a President (or anyone else) places himself above the law. If the New York Times report is true, then Bush should be impeached."
Hilzoy on NSA Taps
Via Kung Fu Monkey

Bush=National Security Threat
Excellent Bruce Schneier piece on Bush's secret & illegal wiretapping:
"In defending this secret spying on Americans, Bush said that he relied on his constitutional powers (Article 2) and the joint resolution passed by Congress after 9/11 that led to the war in Iraq. This rationale was spelled out in a memo written by John Yoo, a White House attorney, less than two weeks after the attacks of 9/11. It's a dense read and a terrifying piece of legal contortionism, but it basically says that the president has unlimited powers to fight terrorism. He can spy on anyone, arrest anyone, and kidnap anyone and ship him to another country ... merely on the suspicion that he might be a terrorist. And according to the memo, this power lasts until there is no more terrorism in the world.
The result is that the president's wartime powers, with its armies, battles, victories, and congressional declarations, now extend to the rhetorical "War on Terror": a war with no fronts, no boundaries, no opposing army, and -- most ominously -- no knowable "victory." Investigations, arrests, and trials are not tools of war. But according to the Yoo memo, the president can define war however he chooses, and remain "at war" for as long as he chooses.

This is indefinite dictatorial power. And I don't use that term lightly; the very definition of a dictatorship is a system that puts a ruler above the law. In the weeks after 9/11, while America and the world were grieving, Bush built a legal rationale for a dictatorship. Then he immediately started using it to avoid the law.

This is, fundamentally, why this issue crossed political lines in Congress. If the president can ignore laws regulating surveillance and wiretapping, why is Congress bothering to debate reauthorizing certain provisions of the Patriot Act? Any debate over laws is predicated on the belief that the executive branch will follow the law.

This is not a partisan issue between Democrats and Republicans; it's a president unilaterally overriding the Fourth Amendment, Congress and the Supreme Court. Unchecked presidential power has nothing to do with how much you either love or hate George W. Bush. You have to imagine this power in the hands of the person you most don't want to see as president, whether it be Dick Cheney or Hillary Rodham Clinton, Michael Moore or Ann Coulter.

Laws are what give us security against the actions of the majority and the powerful. If we discard our constitutional protections against tyranny in an attempt to protect us from terrorism, we're all less safe as a result."
There are lots of good links here, including:

"Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA)" (1978).

"Authorization for Use of Military Force (2001)," the law authorizing Bush to use military force against the 9/11 terrorists.

"United States v. United States District Court," 407 U.S. 297 (1972), a national security surveillance case that turned on the Fourth Amendment.

"Hamdi v. Rumsfeld," 124 S. Ct. 981 (2004), the recent Supreme Court case examining the president's powers during wartime.

The Security Threat of Unchecked Presidential Power
Via tecznotes links

Happy Freakin' New Year
"Welcome to Idiot America.

LET'S TAKE A TOUR, shall we? For the sake of time, we'll just cover the last year or so. A federally funded abstinence program suggests that HIV can be transmitted through tears. An Alabama legislator proposes a bill to ban all books by gay authors. The Texas House passes a bill banning suggestive cheerleading. And nobody laughs at any of it, or even points out that, in the latter case, having Texas ban suggestive cheerleading is like having Nebraska ban corn. James Dobson, a prominent conservative Christian spokesman, compares the Supreme Court to the Ku Klux Klan. Pat Robertson, another prominent conservative preacher, says that federal judges are a more serious threat to the country than is Al Qaeda and, apparently taking his text from the Book of Gambino, later sermonizes that the United States should get with it and snuff the democratically-elected president of Venezuela.

The Congress of the United States intervenes to extend into a televised spectacle the prolonged death of a woman in Florida. The majority leader of the Senate, a physician, pronounces a diagnosis based on heavily edited videotape. The majority leader of the House of Representatives argues against cutting-edge research into the use of human stem cells by saying that "an embryo is a person... We were all at one time embryos ourselves. So was Abraham. So was Muhammad. So was Jesus of Nazareth." Nobody laughs at him or points out that the same could be said of Hitler, Stalin, Pol Pot, or whoever invented the baby-back rib.

And, finally, in August, the cover of Time -- for almost a century the dyspeptic voice of the American establishment -- clears its throat, hems and haws and hacks like a headmaster gagging on his sherry, and asks, quite seriously: "Does God have a place in science class?"

Fights over creationism -- and its faddish new camouflage, intelligent design, a pseudoscience that posits without proof or method that science is inadequate to explain existence and that supernatural causes must be considered -- roil up school districts across the country.

The president of the United States announces that he believes ID ought to be taught in the public schools on an equal footing with the theory of evolution. And in Dover, Pennsylvania, during one of these many controversies, a pastor named Ray Mummert delivers the line that both ends our tour and, in every real sense, sums it up: "We've been attacked," he says, "by the intelligent, educated segment of the culture."

And there it is. Idiot America is not the place where people say silly things. It's not the place where people believe in silly things. It is not the place where people go to profit from the fact that people believe in silly things. Idiot America is not even those people who believe that Adam named the dinosaurs. Those people pay attention. They take notes. They take the time and the considerable mental effort to construct a worldview that is round and complete. The rise of Idiot America is essentially a war on expertise. It's not so much antimodernism or the distrust of intellectual elites that Richard Hofstadter deftly teased out of the national DNA forty years ago. Both of those things are part of it. However, the rise of Idiot America today represents -- for profit mainly, but also, and more cynically, for political advantage and in the pursuit of power -- the breakdown of a consensus that the pursuit of knowledge is a good. It also represents the ascendancy of the notion that the people whom we should trust the least are the people who best know what they're talking about. In the new media age, everybody is a historian, or a preacher, or a scientist, or a sage. And if everyone is an expert, then nobody is, and the worst thing you can be in a society where everybody is an expert is, well, an actual expert."
Greetings from Idiot America
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