August 5, 2008

I stopped believing in heaven around the time I learned Santa Claus didn’t exist. You know, when I grew up. But damn if this doesn’t sound like heaven itself. And it’s actually up there, where we’ve been looking all along.

Specifically, what we’ve found is an expanse of absolutely fucking nothing far, far away from here.

WASHINGTON — Astronomers have stumbled upon a tremendous hole in the universe. That’s got them scratching their heads about what’s just not there. The cosmic blank spot has no stray stars, no galaxies, no sucking black holes, not even mysterious dark matter. It is 1 billion light years across of nothing. That’s an expanse of nearly 6 billion trillion miles of emptiness, a University of Minnesota team announced Thursday.


I’m sure there will be celebration on the day this cocksucker of a human being leaves office — I know I’ll be participating. But let this post be my celebration of new politics in America, something other than the idea of Bush.

I’ll never hear that name — that word — the same way again. Bush. Just think about him for a second. Who he is and where he came from, what he’s done and how he’s done it. It’s amazing and grotesque.

It’s like humanity took its most polished log of fecal matter, something we’ve been working on for 250,000 years, and presented it to the world. The most evil bastards you can imagine got their hands on that chunk of shit first, and that’s not surprising. What is surprising is that we sat around and let it happen. I say we, and I want to separate myself, I really do. But it is we, after all. We did this.

Here is a reminder of who that man was… who he is, who we elected. This one man and the people that congregated around him affected your life profoundly, no matter where you’re from. And this man is an asshole:

And here is a reminder of what he’s done. If he had access to your actual asshole, there would be a global tracking device in it. All in the name of domestic security, our economy, our freedom! Why cut off your nose to spite your face when there are ample veins to slice?

Federal agents may take a traveler’s laptop or other electronic device to an off-site location for an unspecified period of time without any suspicion of wrongdoing, as part of border search policies the Department of Homeland Security recently disclosed.

Also, officials may share copies of the laptop’s contents with other agencies and private entities for language translation, data decryption or other reasons, according to the policies, dated July 16 and issued by two DHS agencies, U.S. Customs and Border Protection and U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

“The policies . . . are truly alarming,” said Sen. Russell Feingold (D-Wis.), who is probing the government’s border search practices. He said he intends to introduce legislation soon that would require reasonable suspicion for border searches, as well as prohibit profiling on race, religion or national origin.

DHS officials said that the newly disclosed policies — which apply to anyone entering the country, including U.S. citizens — are reasonable and necessary to prevent terrorism. Officials said such procedures have long been in place but were disclosed last month because of public interest in the matter.

Civil liberties and business travel groups have pressed the government to disclose its procedures as an increasing number of international travelers have reported that their laptops, cellphones and other digital devices have been taken — for months, in at least one case — and their contents examined.

The policies state that officers may “detain” laptops “for a reasonable period of time” to “review and analyze information.” This may take place “absent individualized suspicion.”

The policies cover “any device capable of storing information in digital or analog form,” including hard drives, flash drives, cell phones, iPods, pagers, beepers, and video and audio tapes. They also cover “all papers and other written documentation,” including books, pamphlets and “written materials commonly referred to as ‘pocket trash’ or ‘pocket litter.’ ”

Reasonable measures must be taken to protect business information and attorney-client privileged material, the policies say, but there is no specific mention of the handling of personal data such as medical and financial records.

When a review is completed and no probable cause exists to keep the information, any copies of the data must be destroyed. Copies sent to non-federal entities must be returned to DHS. But the documents specify that there is no limitation on authorities keeping written notes or reports about the materials.

“They’re saying they can rifle through all the information in a traveler’s laptop without having a smidgen of evidence that the traveler is breaking the law,” said Greg Nojeim, senior counsel at the Center for Democracy and Technology. Notably, he said, the policies “don’t establish any criteria for whose computer can be searched.”

Customs Deputy Commissioner Jayson P. Ahern said the efforts “do not infringe on Americans’ privacy.” In a statement submitted to Feingold for a June hearing on the issue, he noted that the executive branch has long had “plenary authority to conduct routine searches and seizures at the border without probable cause or a warrant” to prevent drugs and other contraband from entering the country.

Only the unimaginative could claim that they have nothing to hide from the government.  I love traveling, and if the opportunity presents itself, I suspect that in the future it will be on the top of my list. What I don’t suspect when I re-enter the country is that my laptop, digital camera, and cell phone will be seized and searched, possibly kept indefinitely with my personal data spread through out several government agencies to Joe Fucking America. I’m sure some out there would love to continue to leave their family’s best interests in someone else’s hands; have the government take care of it all, no matter how inept it is. It could get a little cozy after a while!

But this has been eight years of failure. I welcome change, even if it’s within the constraints that America and its politics allow. It would be hard to run a country as great as this into hell, but George sure tried. So it’s time to take that fork out of your skin and throw it back, America. Hopefully you hit the target this time.

God bless the United States of America.